Overall: I was expecting a thrilling dystopian with a lot of political intrigue, but The Book of Ivy ended up being much slower than I expected. I appreciated the pro-feminist themes, but I wish the book had employed more showing rather than telling. I was also hoping for a slow-burn, passionate yet dangerous romance (living with the enemy and all) but the romance was tame to the point of almost non-existence. I will say that the ending surprised me and I was definitely not expecting it to turn out the way it did, so the last few chapters were more exciting compared to the slow pace of the rest of the book. I was curious enough by the end to want to continue with the second book.
From the minute I saw the cover of The Book of Ivy, I was hooked. The premise seemed like an interesting twist on dystopian, and I was expecting an assassin-y, butt kicking heroine and a slow-burn yet inevitable romance that would have me drowning in delicious tension. After all, with a plot that includes the sons of the winning side of society to marry the daughters of the losers for the sake of “peace,” deep-rooted tensions and frustrations seem unavoidable. I was so excited and so ready to fall in love with this book. Unfortunately, my love affair with The Book of Ivy didn’t happen. It was more like I developed a lukewarm friendship with the novel that will (hopefully) grow into deeper feelings with subsequent books.
Gr 9 Up—After the brutal war that decimated most of the country, Ivy Westfall's grandfather founded Westfall and envisioned a democratic nation in which everyone had a right to vote. However, after a conflict between the Westfall and the Lattimer families, the Lattimers won power and governed Westfall as a dictatorship. All of her life, Ivy has been trained to hate President Lattimer for his imposed laws—specifically arranged marriages. When it is her turn to marry, she is assigned to Bishop, President Lattimer's son. Going into the marriage, Ivy's father and sister encourage her to kill her new husband and return the Westfall family to their rightful position. This mission becomes increasingly difficult as Ivy develops feelings for her husband. She is forced to make a decision that will alter her entire life. The Book of Ivy begins as most dystopians do—with a ceremony and the main character forced into a situation as dictated by the government. However, the novel quickly separates itself from the mediocre and presents a fantastic plot that makes readers think about the blurred lines between right and wrong. VERDICT Well-developed characters and intricate world-building combined with complex relationships, political corruption, and betrayal, leave readers begging for the second book in this series.—Lindsey Dawson, Saint John's Catholic Prep, Frederick, MD