The Book of Ivy - Amy Engel

I received a review copy of this book for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.

My hopes for The Book of Ivy were very high, and I'm happy to say the book went above and beyond them. I'm always afraid of becoming sick of dystopian stories, but so far I've been lucky. The world Amy Engel has created is nothing short of intriguing and satisfies my craving for an entertaining and thought-provoking dystopian novel.

First of all, I loved the themes she weaves in this story - the importance of thinking for oneself and that things are rarely black and white just to name a couple - in and around the characters and their actions. Ivy finds herself questioning more and more all that her father and sister drilled into her head her entire life. Bishop gives her room to find herself and learn how to think for herself, which earned him mega points in my book. He doesn't see her as a weak girl who needs to be saved, and he's right about her.

The setting is a small town in what was once southern Missouri in the Ozarks area. I liked knowing this because in a lot of dystopians, they're usually vague as to where they take place, and it helps me connect more with the story itself as well as the characters. So I definitely appreciated that info was given.

Ivy is a girl I felt empathy for because she's forced into an arranged marriage to a stranger, and she's only sixteen. Not only that but she also must face the ever-increasing amount of pressure from her father and sister to do what they tell her to in order to move forward with their plan to take back control of the people. She deals with all of this better than I would have, especially at her age. But the more time she spends with Bishop, the more she begins to realize the world isn't exactly the way her father always told her.

Bishop is easy to love. He has so many good qualities but is still a realistic character I could connect with. I relished the moments between him and Ivy and could not bear for distance to creep back into their relationship. No instalove and no triangles here, and that was refreshing. The romance is subtle and not overdone at all.

I found many quotes in The Book of a Ivy that have become favorites of mine, and I'm only sharing two because the rest would give key plot points away, which I definitely don't want to do. This book brought out so many emotions in me and caused me to savor every word, sometimes more than once or even twice.

"No matter how hard I look, I cannot find the blood on his hands." - Ivy

"I will be the one with blood on my hands, and I don't know if that's something I can ever wash away." - Ivy

I liked the subtle Romeo & Juliet joke Bishop makes when they come across the book in his father's library because Ivy and Bishop in their own way are like a twisted version of the famous star-crossed lovers. Their families hate each other, and I couldn't help but think their story will probably end in tragedy as well. While they didn't choose to be together necessarily, there is passion stirring between them that could blossom into love.

It pains me that I must wait a year until the next book comes out, lol. Oh, the humanity!! I'm dying to know what's going to happen next. Until then, I'll have to find ways to keep myself occupied - Netflix marathons here I come!