Author: Amy Engel
Series: The Book of Ivy, #1
In a world devastated by war, the remaining survivors battled for power and now live under the stringent rule of President Lattimer. To curb the animosity between the Westside, those who supported Samuel Westfall’s rule and Eastglen, those who sided with the Lattimers, the president has decreed two dates in which each side should give their daughters in marriage to the other. For Ivy Westfall, whose whole life seems mapped out for her, this means marrying Bishop Lattimer, the president’s son. What the president doesn’t know is that the Westfall family has never admitted defeat, and they will do anything to take back power. Ivy is their weapon and Bishop is her target, but her new husband is not what she expected and the more time she spends with him, the more she begins to question her mission.
“Not everyone who dies in a war is guilty. Sometimes they’re just on the wrong side.”
Amy Engel’s The Book of Ivy is not the most original story, in many ways it’s even a little predictable, but despite this, I actually really enjoyed it. Ivy has been raised to believe the very worst about the Lattimers. She sees the current marriage system as a way to control those opposed to Lattimer rule and her family’s cause the means to set things right. Much of the story revolves around Ivy discovering that not everything is black and white, and despite the fact that her family is fighting against this oppressive government, it doesn’t justify their own methods. This becomes clearer to Ivy as her relationship with Bishop grows.
Bishop doesn’t always agree with his father and he’s genuine in his interest of Ivy. At first he seemed a little too perfect, but as the story progresses, there is a recklessness in him, a willingness to go to great lengths to protect those unable to protect themselves, that is both heroic and frightening. Ivy, brought up beside her sister and educated by her father, has been isolated from the outside world. Bishop, who grew up as an only child and kept at an arm’s length by everyone because of his father, reminds Ivy of herself in many ways. There is something very lonely about these two characters and the fact that they find some kind of solace in each other seems very fitting.
The Book of Ivy isn’t without its flaws. I found the setup for this world lacked enough detail. The idea that nuclear war has destroyed the world and a group of survivors have built themselves a city surrounded by a wall is a little cliché. But I really enjoyed the evolution of Ivy and Bishop’s relationship and seeing how Ivy finds strength in herself, especially in the characteristics she’s been brought up to believe are a weakness.