Series Review: The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel | The Book of Ivy Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Book of Ivy (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…

breakdown

Series: The Book of Ivy
Author: Amy Engel
# of Books: 2 (The Book of Ivy, The Revolution of Ivy)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

My Expectations for the Book/Why I Picked it Up:

I was very excited to read The Book of Ivy. I loved the concept of the story–it was very Cruel Beauty-esque but with a more dystopian focus than fantasy and I really, really enjoyed Cruel Beauty so I couldn’t wait! But then, I started to see mediocre reviews for The Book of Ivy on some of the blogs that I follow and got a little less excited. Yet at the same time, it just really made me want to read this more. So I lowered my expectations slightly and went into with an open mind.

I’m glad that I did commit to picking up this book because I really did enjoy it! I was reading The Book of Ivy just on the cusp of my exams so I wanted a book where I didn’t have to think so hard and could get lost in the story. And with this book I could. I was immediately drawn into the world and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. Was I able to put it down and function with my life–absolutely. But when I was reading, it managed to capture my attention and keep it.

The Concept/The World:

Why I think a lot of people give it a low rating is because its execution isn’t completely original; or at least to me it wasn’t. I’ve read a LOT of dystopian books and The Book of Ivy is a super mashup of ones I’ve read before. If anyone has ever read Pandemonium (Lauren Oliver’s Delirium Trilogy‘s 2nd book) they have very similar story lines and concepts. I also got vibes from the Matched Trilogy, The Breathe Series and The Selection as well. The only key difference is, while I found Ivy to be a little on the boring side, I liked her character a lot more than the heroines of these other series. The same can be said about Bishop who completely won me over from the start.

The Plot:

I think the key going into this book is to not expect some high-tension scenarios. I found The Book of Ivy coasts along at a moderate rate because the romance isn’t very passionate; the action is non-existent (ie Ivy isn’t some kick-ass heroine) and it really isn’t politically focused. It’s a very subdued dystopian novel which isn’t necessarily a bad thing–it just makes it look like the younger, not as interesting sibling of bigger dystopian titles like The Hunger Games.

However, that isn’t to say the dystopian world we get isn’t interesting! I really enjoyed the look at gender roles in society, especially how a female “contributes positively” to her community; and what happens if the concept “for the common good” is taken to an extreme. While these themes aren’t highly elaborated, they are definitely present and it add to the story in a positive way.

The Characters & The Romance:

As I said before, Ivy didn’t particularly “wow” me but I did like her character. She showed a considerable amount of growth as the story progressed and I liked her rebellious nature. And while I thought Bishop’s character was a little more on the stereotypical side of things, I liked him a lot. Together I thought they made a great pair.

Which is why I wish the romance was a little more elaborated on. I didn’t mind the slow build and I actually think it was executed in the best way for this story; but the romance fan in me did wish for some more passion 😉

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m looking forward to The Revolution of Ivy and am very glad that this book will be the finale. Not everything needs to be a trilogy and I feel that 2 books is the perfect length for this series!

updates

–July 4, 2016– Book #2: The Revolution of Ivy

While I forgot some of the littler details of the inaugural novel, I really enjoyed this finale.

I found the start to be slow but I kind-of expected that given the ending of The Book of Ivy. However, it quickly built up speed and become very interesting.

I liked the character development of Ivy we get here. This novel is really about her coming to terms with who she is as a person and what she wants to be happy in life. She makes some tough choices and I applaud her for that.

I wanted a little more excitement at the end but given the nature of the series, I’m very satisfied with how this finale played out. And, the romance was adorable <3

My Rating: 3.5/5

The Book of Ivy 3.5/5 | The Revolution of Ivy 3.5/5

overall

Is The Book of Ivy the greatest dystopian novel ever? No. But if you go in expecting a slower, more subdued dystopian story, I think you will enjoy it! It’s execution is very similar to that of the Delirium Trilogy in the sense that it isn’t a high action, high tension story (like Divergent or The Hunger Games). However, I did feel like The Book of Ivy had a better execution than the Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie which explores similar themes.

Read if You Like: low action dystopian, mild romance
Avoid if You: like kick-ass heroines (literally), dislike slow stories, want more romance

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