Book of Ivy
by Engel, Amy

In an apocalyptic future where girls from the losing faction are forcibly married to boys of the winning faction, sixteen-year-old Ivy is tasked to kill her fianc‚e Bishop, although when she finally meets him, he is not the monster she has been led to believe.

Amy Engel was born in Kansas and after a childhood spent bouncing between countries (Iran, Taiwan) and states (Kansas; California; Missouri; Washington, D.C.), she settled in Kansas City, Missouri, where she lives with her husband and two kids. Before devoting herself full-time to motherhood and writing, she was a criminal defense attorney, which is not quite as exciting as it looks on TV. When she has a free moment, she can usually be found reading, running, or shoe shopping. The Book of Ivy is her debut YA novel. Find her online at or @aengelwrites.

So few young-adult novels start with a wedding, but it's a pivotal element to this debut dystopian romance. Since the decline of the U.S. 50 years ago, people have been split between the Lattimers and the Westfalls, East and West, inside the fence and beyond the wall. Ivy Westfall, now 16, is slated to marry Bishop Lattimer in order to unite the two sides and bring some sense of unity to their society. Ivy's family, however, has decided that she will murder Bishop to restore her family's legacy. It's only made worse when she realizes that the Lattimers aren't the all-consuming evil she has been raised to believe, and that Bishop might even be a decent guy, which makes her mission even harder. The slow burn of their unexpected romance borders on new adult, but it stays relatively tame, even in a few steamy scenes. The novel is less about the devastation of the world and intriguingly more about the people left behind. The promise of a second book will excite potential readers. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

In this YA novel set in a post-apocalyptic future, a teenage girl is charged by her family with killing the president's son—who is also her new husband.Two generations ago, nuclear war almost destroyed the world. A small town of less than 10,000 survivors was founded by narrator Ivy Westfall's grandfather, but President Lattimer's father won the struggle for control. He now rules autocratically rather than heading up the democracy Westfall favored. Criminals are exiled and left to die. To soothe old wounds, the town instituted a tradition: Sons of the winning side marry the daughters of the losers, and vice versa. Now Ivy, 16, must marry Bishop Lattimer—son of the president, who had Ivy's mother killed. Nervous as any young girl might be about marrying a stranger, Ivy has an additional burden: She has promised her family that she will kill her new husband so as to aid the rebellion. Ivy, outspoken and reckless, soon realizes that Bishop is gentle, thoughtful and g uilty of nothing, which presents her with a terrible dilemma: "If I kill Bishop, my family will be in power, but Bishop will be dead and what will I be? A murderer." When Ivy is given an ultimatum to poison Bishop, she faces a terrible decision. In her debut novel, Engel employs the first-person, present-tense style that's almost de rigueur in this genre. Together with the emotionally fraught situation—simply having to share a house with a man is unsettling for Ivy—the book has immediacy, and there's justification for plenty of teenage angst. Ivy is forced to question her family's motivations as Bishop keeps surprising her, and she surprises herself with her growing feelings for him. The worldbuilding is mostly well-thought-out, with some complicated issues: Westfall lacks resources to make jewelry but can make electronic security systems? The pace becomes slow, too, and it seems as if the real drama is still to come in a planned sequel, which may frustrate some r eaders.An intriguing start with a brave heroine; too bad readers must await the sequel for some real action. Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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