Nuclear war has almost obliterated the United States. After continued conflict, family against family, survivors eventually found ways to work together to survive. Control over political structure and power went to the victorious Lattimers, over the defeated Westfalls.
For fifty years of an uneasy peace, order is shakily preserved by the marrying of the Westfall daughters to the Lattimer sons. And it is time for 16 year old Ivy Westfall to take her turn. She will be married to the president’s son, but it is not as simple as pledging vows to each other; Ivy has a previous oath to uphold. She has sworn to kill the young man, and return her family to power.
Of course it could never be that easy.
The characters are good. Ivy is very likeable. She does, in typically dystopian fashion, start to question all that she has been raised to believe, and look at her family differently. Where before she blindly followed and believed, now she questions and wonders. She was very torn between her loyalty to all she had ever known and her new life. Her indecisiveness and constant questioning of “is this right, is this wrong” drove me crazy at times, but I would have to say it seemed fairly typical of a 16 year old girl in unfamiliar circumstances. (I say that with all the accumulated wisdom of my advanced years, conveniently forgetting my own annoying traits at that age).
Bishop is, as expected, not what she expects. He is not the personification of evil; rather, he is kind and generous and considerate and handsome, and wants to develop a relationship over time with Ivy, rather than just taking what he has been taught he is owed. So much for falling for the bad boy.
I liked all the secondary characters; author Amy Engel did a great job developing their traits and personalities. They definitely added colour to the story.
The world building is a bit weak, which is unusual in a dystopian novel. We know there was a devastating war that destroyed the country, but not really explained why, or how it happened. While politics are central to the plot, the different factions are not really explored. But it is a minor detraction from the overall story.
In some ways, this debut checks off every box in the “YA dystopian” category: warring factions, teens married off young to help save the species, falling in love with the enemy, etc. But wait. It is so much better than that. It is the ending that turns the story on its head, and raises it to the next level.
Book two in the series, The Revolution of Ivy, is slated for release in November. I will be reading it!
The Book of Ivy is published by Entangled:Teen.