The Friday 56, #91: The Revolution of Ivy

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’re been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“I’ll ask around and find you some clothes. Most of mine aren’t going to fit. You’re a lot taller and…you know…” She makes an hourglass motion with her hands. It’s so reminiscent of Callie that tears gather on my lashed before I can stop them. I take a deep breath and tilt my head up until they’re gone. I don’t understand how I can hate Callie and love her all in one breath.

I just finished the conclusion in the Book of Ivy duology by Amy Engel. I didn’t enjoy this second book quite as much as the first one, but I did think it provided a good conclusion. In this excerpt the protagonist is recalling a memory of her sister, who she has a complicated relationship with. Cover is linked to Goodreads. You can read my review for the first book, The Book of Ivy, or for the sequel, The Revolution of Ivy, spotlighted in this post.

The Revolution of Ivy by Amy Engel

The Revolution of Ivy by Amy Engel

Title: The Revolution of Ivy
Author: Amy Engel
Series: The Book of Ivy, #2

When Ivy Westfall was forced to marry the President’s son, Bishop Lattimer, she had one goal, to kill him. But her new husband was not the person she was led to believe and she refused to follow through with her original plan. When the plot to assassinate him is discovered, Ivy is cast out. Little is known about the land outside her city, but Ivy must gather all her strength if she has any hope of surviving. Ivy believes the life she once had is now part of the past, but when a familiar face shows up, she must consider whether her actions irrevocably changed the city she left behind.

“I expected it to be difficult outside the fence. And dangerous. But I never anticipated how relentlessly empty it would be. How vast the land and how small I am in comparison, almost like I’m steadily shrinking nothing under the endless expanse of the late-summer sky.”

The Revolution of Ivy, the final book in Amy Engel’s duology, is a good ending but lacked enough build-up to feel completely satisfying. In the wilderness, Ivy must learn to rely on herself, to recognize her own strengths, something she was only beginning to do in the first novel. Much of the book felt like a sophomore release, tying the first book’s events to its inevitable conclusion. Thus, when the conclusion came, much of what happened felt rushed. Many of the key players could have been given more development, especially Ivy’s father and sister. We learn so little about them in the first book, save for their determination to oust the Lattimers and the callousness with which they treat Ivy. Callie is always presented as everything Ivy isn’t and I would have liked to have spent more time getting to know her.

Along her journey, Ivy meets Ash and Caleb, adoptive siblings who have spent their lives surviving the wasteland. Though Ash immediately takes to Ivy, providing her with the kind of friendship she never had with her own sister, Caleb finds it more difficult to trust a stranger. Slowly, they become to Ivy the kind of family that her real family never was. Instead of trying to be someone she’s not, Ivy is able to be herself around them, something she was never able to be with anyone, not even Bishop.

The Revolution of Ivy really gives the protagonist a chance to shine, but I felt the storyline needed to focus more on the city of Westfall and its politics in order to feel like a fully flushed-out story.

Rating: 3/5

★★★

The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

Title: The Book of Ivy
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.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★