Friday, January 2, 2015

"The Book of Ivy" by Amy Engel (SPOILER FREE) + A Comment on Entangled Teen.

Is it possible to give a book ALL OF THE STARZ? Because, I think "The Book of Ivy" by Amy Engel deserves them all. Is it also terrible that I already know this book is going to be in my Top Ten of 2015? Because it is. It's DAY 2! And I know this is one of my new favorite books of all time. It is damn near perfection. About as close to perfection as I've read in a long time.

Here's the Goodreads Synopsis:

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…
YA Dystopians make up the largest single genre that I read, and trust me when I say, this is one of the best Dystopians I have ever read. In my life. Ever. This could be because it is one of the best books I have ever read. Ever.

For starters, the world-building is so spot on, realistic, and simple that I can picture every aspect of the world. The descriptions that Engel provides are so absolutely dead on--I've made it known before that I am from the wonderful state of Missouri. In chapters one and two, when Engel is describing the terrain and scenery, I legitimately thought 'This sounds a lot like the Lake.' (The Lake of the Ozarks for those of you not from the Midwest. And then! AND THEN! It was!!! Engel set this wonderful book in my own backyard, and she described it so well that I knew before it was explicitly stated!

This is the kind of place she's talking about people, Ivy and Bishop LIVE HERE! I can see it! 
The government and the way the society runs is so realistic, I mean, absolutely dead on. I didn't see any holes whatsoever in this aspect of the book--and I'm usually pretty harsh on dystopian governments. Ivy's grandfather lost the battle for control of Westfall--he wanted to replicate the previous American government system of democracy. Bishop's grandfather won--he created a dynasty-controlled system. Very controlling, from the perspective of the Westfalls, with arranged marriages and harsh punishments for breaking the rules. (Side note: As a person who holds a Bachelor's in Political Science, these rules are pretty much Rebuilding Society 101, and make the most sense I have ever seen narrated in a YA Dystopian.)

The forethought and realism doesn't stop with the world-building. Ivy Westfall is honest and relatable. Her emotional moments are raw and moving. And Bishop isn't your standard "forbidden fruit" dystopian dude, nope, he fits into the world perfectly. He has stories, moments, and emotions all his own. He is honest and his relationship with Ivy is timed perfectly. There are no super-dramatic, forced--except those that add to the story.

The end. My God. The end! My mouth was left hanging open throughout the last two chapters. And then I almost cried when I saw that the follow-up doesn't come out until November 2015! I don't know if I can wait that long. Heck, I KNOW I can't wait that long.

This book is absolutely wonderful, and I encourage you to pick it up immediately. I read it all in about 24 hours, and shushed my husband about 45 times.

Please read this amazing story by Amy Engel, you'll only thank yourself if you do.

If you can't tell, I give this book, overall, a 5/5 STARS, but that's only because I can't give it ONE MILLION/5 STARS.


I want to make a comment about Entangled Teen publishers--this is the third author that I have read represented by them (Jennifer L. Armentrout, Alison Kemper, and now Engel), and I have been completely blown away by all three. I get their e-mails weekly in my inbox, and I can't say that I'm one for the super adult romance novels that they push, but I cannot get enough of these authors. They are choosing to rep authors that write strong, relatable, and funny main characters, and stories that keep me reading until I read the end.

I just wanted to take a moment to commend them on the phenomenal YA books they are putting out, and encourage them to push these authors to the forefront when advertising to readers like myself. I am one million times more likely to read a book about zombies by Alison Kemper than a modern, corset-heaving romance.

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