I have a pretty good idea of the kinds of books I like. I try to step out of my comfort zone, but there's never enough time and so many books.
But every so often, I start to hear about a book I overlooked. One that I decided wasn't for me ... until I began to read rave reviews. So of course I had to investigate:
by Amy Engel
Published by Entangled Teen
on November 11, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads: After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual. This year, it is my turn. My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and restore the Westfall family to power. But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy. Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…
Why did I pass this one up? Dystopian YA and I are taking a break, for the most part. So when I read this, I thought ... eh. Matched. Been there, read that.
What I thought: While this book isn't perfect, I thought that its good points were really very good. If you're a stickler for lots of detailed dystopian world building, you may be a little dissatisfied. The scene setting is pretty much limited to the information in the synopsis above, and the post-nuclear US seems pretty similar to our world. There aren't much in the way of developed secondary characters, with the exception of the president, who had some interesting potential, and Ivy's boss.
But let's be honest: the appeal of this book is ALL about Ivy and Bishop and their slow burn romance, something that had me turning the pages like crazy. The two of them are forced into an arranged marriage that felt more retro-chaste than futuristic, but that resulted in a lot of romantic tension. (It also reminded me a little of my secret guilty reality TV pleasure, 90 Day Fiance. Shhh.) There was something completely touching and completely spellbinding about the way these two warily formed a sort-of relationship. I loved the way the book acknowledged the weirdness of their situation while at the same time working it for all it was worth.
Just when Ivy and Bishop were getting a little bit cozy, disaster struck. Of course. And this being dystopian YA, there's a cliffhanger ending. And a second book comes out in fall 2015. But I'm not worried; I've read a few of these kinds of stories and can pretty much predict how things will turn out in the end. I'll definitely be checking the second book out!
Have you read this? Let me know what you thought in comments!