Author: Amy Engel
Protagonist: Ivy Westfall
Other Character(s): Bishop Lattimer, President Lattimer, Justin Lattimer, Ash, Caleb, Cally Westfall, Mark Laird
***This will reveal some spoilers from Book 1 The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel***
Review for Book 1: The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel
Synopsis: The second and last installment of Engel’s The Book of Ivy takes us to the life outside of Westfall. This begins with the end of the first book and Ivy is left to learn to live on her own in this harsh war-ridden world. Will she be able to find herself and overcome her exile to survive or succumb to the harsh environment?
Review: For a series that I never meant to pick up, I’m actually surprised that I finished and enjoyed the duology. Not my new favorite, but they are good enough for entertainment purposes. This second and final book of ‘The Book of Ivy’ is just as good as the first and if truth be told I enjoyed it a lot more than the first. I still have some problems with some things, like decisions Ivy make and the background story of Westfall, but overall the book is a great conclusion to the story of Ivy and Bishop.
I always like to get the grittier part of the review out of the way first. So lets start with the things I didn’t like about the book. There really aren’t that many, but I feel that they are important enough that I took away 2 stars from my rating. The number one thing I really was not happy about, in this book and even the first, is the lack of world building. As much as I enjoy hearing about Westfall over and over again, I do wish that Engel spent a little more time in creating her world outside of the small town. In this book we get to visit three different locations and yet our author failed to create a detailed description of the towns she mentions and even the community Caleb and Ash. Just like in the first, we are left to use our own imagination on how the whole world came into this post-apocalyptic era. I understand that she is trying to create a sense of isolation, but if she mentions the whole world being decrepit and in the same dire situation as Westfall, she could have at least given more thought on conveying information to the readers regarding the reasons. The lack of this, made me ask a lot of questions that are unfortunately left unanswered. I feel that she took the easy way out and created her characters to be a recluse in order to not mention the fall of other societies. Also, the way she describes the world, in the first book, just over the fence seemed a lot more…intense. Unfortunately I really didn’t get this feeling. Except for one instance, I really wasn’t scared for Ivy’s life. Yes, she did get saved, but Engel could have added more risk in our heroine’s journey. Like I said, she describes this future world in a more sinister way, and yet when she has the chance to give us more details, she backs down from it.
Now in this book we see a different Ivy. At first, she is this lost and scared girl unable to know if she can live without her family or husband, but then she turns into a character worth enjoying. She is now more sure of herself and is able to defend herself in time of a crisis, not just physically, but also emotionally. I feel that her character has grown up to be someone who is more certain of herself and her decisions in life. Although, this does not mean I agree with some of her actions, especially regarding her sister and Mark. I am little bit more forgiving on her actions towards Bishop, I know its uncalled for, but considering her situation its very understandable. As much as Engle wanted her protagonist to look noble in terms of her relationship towards her family, I feel that it just made her look naive. I hoped that Ivy used more sense in this particular part of the book and even if she let her heart overrule her brain, it would have been more realistic if she had a backup plan. This though is just my personal opinion and I feel that I’m a minority in this.
Now that my rant is over, I actually did enjoy the rest of the book. I love that the author added Caleb and Ash to the list of characters. They added a different type of relationship and meaning to the world family. They gave a sense of belonging to Ivy, one that she never felt with her own people. I’m even happier that Engel didn’t include a love triangle. Seriously, most authors would have grabbed a chance to make this into another Twilight, and I’m so glad that she set herself apart from this trope. The relationship between these four shows that a family doesn’t necessary have to be biological, but rather those who are willing to stand by you no matter how difficult or good the situation is. Even if I’m not a big fan of sad endings, I’m actually okay with this. In fact I really can’t picture a more fitting ending than what the author has chosen. It’s exactly what the protagonist needs to start out anew.
Even if this duology is laced with political intrigue and dystopian setting, I feel that this is more centered on the romantic part of the story. I’m not saying its all lovey-dovey between Bishop and Ivy, but its mainly about the different relationships that all the characters present. The rest is all a backdrop of the main point: love can either be good or bad depending on how you want to use it. I’m not much for romance, but Engel does a great job of keeping it simple and heart-warming with a touch of action. This conclusion is sufficient and fitting enough to make the readers happy.
Ending: For me, this story is similar to Rome and Juliet but with a different ending. Instead of the couples suffering the idiocy of their fathers, it was the latter who answered to the consequences of their actions. Which would have been a fitting end to Romeo and Juliet, and I’m happy that Engel took this way in her book. As I said before, I usually prefer endings that are more ‘happily ever after’ but this is a good end to the feud between the Westfalls and the Lattimers. It will enable Bishop and Ivy to live their lives outside of their town and away from the shadow of their families.
I’m also really glad that Cally died in the end. I feel that she is the actual villain in the book, since her reasons for her revolution is a lot more selfish. I really do think that she wanted the Lattimers to step down so that Westfall will be in power, meaning she could be next in line as President. At one point President Lattimer tells Justin Westfall that his revolution has nothing to do with political injustice, but rather the root of it all is the death of his wife. Justin’s reasons are from the heart, where as Cally was for her own gain.