“The Book of Ivy” fails to impress

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Natasha Vyhovsky, News Editor

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

“The Book of Ivy” by Amy Engel takes place fifty years after a nuclear war that destroys the United States. A small community of about ten thousand survivors remains in new “nation,” which is ruled by the Lattimers after a power dispute with the Westfall family over which would control the nation. The book centers around the yearly weddings that take place between the winning family and the losing family, an effort to keep peace. The main character Ivy comes from the losing family, and the novel follows her as she struggles with her mission to kill her arranged husband, the president’s son, and restore her family back to power; things take a turn when she realizes she might actually have feelings for him.

This book is what I would call a sweet mix of dystopian and romantic literature. It doesn’t fully reach the expectations of either one independently, but I think the way Engel meshed the two here was quite effective and entertaining. While this book didn’t offer anything new or particularly exciting to the world of novels, it is classic junk food for your brain if you’re looking for a book to keep you entertained during a snowy day indoors.

I will say the build-up in this book was annoyingly slow, however. You know that one song you love for its catchy chorus, but the build-up is so ridiculously long that you really only enjoy 15 percent of the song once it’s all said and done? This book is that song. The plot seemed to drag on for quite an eternity, lingering in not much else beside very tame romance and Ivy’s constant doubts regarding the plan to kill Bishop. The majority of the rising action was her internal realization that she is, *gasp*, is actually starting to like this boy she is supposed to kill. It’s a little overdone on this front, and, for the love of all things romance, where is the passion, Engel? The “lovers” still hadn’t shared a peck on the cheek by page 70. Additionally, the imagery and character development were a little too simple for my taste; but, if you aren’t one who enjoys constantly reading for deeper meaning and unraveling complex characters, this book falls right in your field.

Despite the extremely slow and simple plot progression, I could not put this book down. I wanted desperately for something exciting to happen, and Engel definitely pulled that anticipation through to the end. Essentially, the book is a romance set in a dystopian society, but it is refreshingly different from the cliche and redundant Nicholas Sparks romances. Ivy is as strong, independent and feminist as it gets in this suppressive society. She constantly challenges the gender roles set by her society, and her marriage is the most progressive and equal one in essentially the whole nation. Although this is really the only part of Ivy’s character the reader gets to experience, it is worth it in my opinion to see a romance that isn’t the standard “girl chases guy.”

Like I said, if you’re looking to be mentally stimulated, don’t pick up this book. However, if you want to relax and read a unique take on teen romance, “The Book of Ivy” is a quick read to give you just what you’re looking for. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, but even if you don’t end up liking it, chances are you will have only spent a few hours reading it anyway. Lastly, the book ends in a spot to leave so many possibilities open for the next book in the series; so if you do enjoy this, make sure to keep your eyes open for the next book in the series, as well as Engel herself when she visits BVNW Tuesday, Jan. 27.