Review: The Book of Ivy (The Book of Ivy #1) by Amy Engel

The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Received: Bought
Publication Date: November 11th 2014
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Point of View: 1st person & Female
Genres & Themes: YA, Dystopia, Romance, Family, Secrecy, War-setting, Plotting.


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…


My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and return the Westfall family to power.

So the premise is grandiose. AMAZING. I didn’t want to expect much from this book, but how could I not, with that enticing blurb and beautiful cover? In fact, it all screamed KICKASS! And a kickass dystopian book is always welcome. Always. But this book barely contained any action. There was secrecy and plotting, of course, but no real and convincing execution around them.

In fact, if I were the main character, not only would I have been DEAD, but also very very BORED. Ivy doesn’t have a choice; she must marry Bishop, the president’s son. In her post-apocalyptic world, every sixteen/seventeen-year-old boy and girl must take a spouse to procreate. And, if that doesn’t work out, they have one thing left: work. If they don’t follow the rules, they are excommunicated and not-so-gently pushed on the other side of the fence.

And those people generally die.

But Ivy and her family want everything to change. By killing Bishop and the president, her own father will be able to gain power and integrate democracy to their ‘nation.’ It’s a really good plan and, had it been put to execution with more seriousness and fatality, it could have been a grand success.

But then there’s Bishop, the sweet, thoughtful and enigmatic Bishop, who (inconveniently) stole Ivy’s heart. Now the plan…she has doubts. Is it the right thing to do? Does he deserve it? She kept asking those questions ALL PLOT LONG. And the thing is, I knew from when they first arrived in their house and Bishop showed himself to be kind to her that everything has been jeopardized already. Ivy was never a criminal, and I didn’t want her to be one, but some action would have been very welcome in the plot.

I honestly tried to enjoy this, but Ivy and Bishop’s relationship was so so TAME. And predictable. Unsurprising. Sleep-worthy. I saw no chemistry between them, let alone feel any captivating atmosphere throughout the read. Another thing that I didn’t enjoy was the pacing: it was slower than in any dystopian book I have read before, Allegiant aside – not sure if any book could ever beat this latter. Probably because not much is happening. The writing was okay, but very standard when I believe it could have been richer in term of vocabulary.

Ivy was sincerely annoying. Overall okay, as a person, but her personality bent toward recklessness oh so many times: Keep your mouth closed, I tell myself. Just shut up. But I can’t […] and My head knows what a terrible idea this is, screaming me to stop, that’ I’m taking things to far, but […] and Against my better judgement […]

No! If your instinct tells you to NOT do something, then perhaps the wisest thing to do would be listening to it. For once. Needless to say, she was repeatedly busted. She also must have gotten some special treatment because, if I look at the world she lives in, many would have been suspicious toward her and investigated more in her personage to finally put to pieces …everything and resolve the puzzle.

I tried to but didn’t agree with her at many points. For instance, she said: Sometimes pain is the only language certain people understand. I don’t believe that. I don’t believe you ought to hurt some to make them listen to you but, hey, it’s personal plus very controversial. As this is: I don’t want to give up like my own mother. Now, is it because someone commits suicide that they ‘give up’? Not sure, but I certainly didn’t like how easily and with no second thoughts she uttered those words.

There barely was any world-building. The setting did vary but they weren’t described enough and absolutely not exploited. The author’s main idea was a good one and quite interesting but her not developing it at its full potential backfired, because I couldn’t believe and imagine this story at one hundred percent in my mind.

For those who want a QUITE simple and uneventful dystopian read, mostly focused on the characters and the romance (filled with angst), this could probably work for you. I wanted more, though. It could have been so much more.


40 thoughts on “Review: The Book of Ivy (The Book of Ivy #1) by Amy Engel

  1. Hmm. Could it be that dystopian has been over-done as a genre and needs to take a rest for a couple of years? I haven’t read this book. I loved the Hunger Games. I HATED Divergent. So, I guess I’m kind of in the middle with this sub-genre? I have no desire to read any more dystopian right now.

    Lola – are you tired of the sub-genre, or did this book just not do it for you? Curious. Thanks!


    • NO! 🙂 Well, yes, in a way. It’s hard to be ”ORIGINAL” nowadays with it but I still usually very much enjoy reading them. Loved HG! Loved Divergent, even more I think. Well, it’s normal to have preferences, and Divergent is a lot more focused on the characters than the action, as in HG.

      I’m not =) They’re different from my everyday reads (fantasy) that’s why I love them so much and when you stumble upon a good one, you NEVER forget your read. ^^


  2. The cover itself looked very promising and it was the ideal blurb for me :/ But after reading your review, I will be putting this off for a while, I really really dislike a boring and monotonous book. Thanks for sharing!


  3. So I just read this one yesterday and eh yawn. It didn’t catch me like everyone said it would which sucks. I mean, I liked the Bishop guy but he was a tad dull, was he not? AND THE DYSTOPIAN WORLD THAT WASN’T EXPLAINED OMG WHY I think I needed more from this one. It’s nothing that we haven’t seen before, bar the introduction of the marriage thing. But yeah, it didn’t wow me so I’m with you on this one, Lola! ❤ Fantastic review my dear!


  4. Oh nice new look for the blog! I heard a lot of the books and I’m sorry it wasn’t for you. I expected a lot about it since the reviews were quite glorious… Now I’m not so sure.


  5. The new blog design looks amazing Lola! As for the book, I wasn’t planning on reading it and your review made me want to stay away from it even more and I’m glad you didn’t like this book (that makes me a bad person? LOL). I’m so tired of dystopian and even though a lot of people around Booktube were loving this book I was just not buying it, if you know what I mean… Thank you for this review, Lola! 😉


  6. Some people love it, some people hate it… I honestly don’t know what to think of this book. It sounds kind of annoying, but DAMN THE SUMMARY SOUNDS SO GOOD! Ugh I’m conflicted, but probably won’t read this one… Great review, Lola!


  7. It’s really too bad Ivy and Bishop didn’t have a little more fire to their relationship. Sorry this wasn’t a better read for you. Nothing like being disappointed when you were expecting a good read.


  8. I’ve been seeing this book in my feed a lot lately! I’ve heard many great things but I’m definitely lowering my expectations now. This book seems quite boring overall and maaaaan I am SO not liking the sound of a predictable and generally lame romance.

    Lovely review, Lola! <33


    • Yeah I mean, it looked so great. I’m not surprised people, such as I, were interested in reading. I thought I would love, but then realized that the author did not execute things well…and the romance meh and plot meh. 😛

      Thank you!!


  9. *groans* I hate when a perfect premise and a cover like that manage to produce a story that falls flat on its face like that. I hope you have some really good reads to follow up this one.
    Great review, Lola, you managed to show why it didn’t work for you, and thus saved me from trying to read this one myself 🙂


  10. I’m SO glad you hate this ’cause now I’m not gonna bother. Earlier, I felt some sort of obligation to read it because everyone talked about how awesome it is, but I didn’t want to. AND NOW I HAVE A REASON FOR THAT. 😀


  11. Yikes! I’d heard good things about this book. I don’t mind plotting, but I do like a little action too. Chemistry is important! Yeah, I’m with you heroines that act stupidly even when they know they shouldn’t are annoying. Okay, this one goes to the maybe pile.


  12. I totally get why this one didn’t work for you Lola but I have completely opposite views on this one. I ended up really liking it but for completely different reasons. Considering so many of the dystopians I’d read in the months prior to picking this one up had such complex and confusing world building and boring/flat characters this one was such a nice refresher for me in terms of characters.


    • In terms of characters, I agree that I don’t see many like these in my usual Dystopian reads (and thank god for it). Lol, but it’s nice to see people liking it. I might not have liked it but that because I expect otherwise from my romances and MCs 😛


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s