DNF Review: The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on February 13, 2015 | 11 Comments

DNF Review: The Book of Ivy by Amy EngelThe Book of Ivy by Amy Engel
Series: The Book of Ivy #1
Published by Entangled Teen (11.11.2014)
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Source: Library


After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual. 

This year, it is my turn. 

My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and restore the Westfall family to power. 

But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…

My thoughts

When I first saw this one, I passed. When everyone else was reading it, I passed. Why? Because I hate the cover. It’s awful!! Plus, it just doesn’t scream “dystopian” to me. It looks like a espionage-thriller kind of thing (in the vein of Heist Society), so I wasn’t even remotely interested. But, then I saw that book twin Ashley rated it 5 stars, and I actually read the synopsis. Hmm, sounds like a dystopian style Hatfields vs. McCoys story with forbidden love. So I decided, Hell, why not. 

This book did not grab me. I was intrigued by the idea of it, but I found the prose to be very dry. I was kind of bored. Not to mention there are large info dumps in the beginning, and I couldn’t get onboard with the history. It felt kind of….half-assed, I guess? And it just wasn’t viable to me.

Thus, I was already not as invested as I’d like to be when this happened:

“Remember the dog?” she asks. I don’t bother nodding because I know she’s going to tell me the story anyway. “We’d walk to the market past that stupid, mangy dog Mrs. Paulson always had tied to her fence. And every day it would lunge at us and bark and go crazy. I told you a hundred times to ignore it, keep walking. I told you I’d figure out a way to handle that dog. But it made you so mad, that we had to be scared whenever we walked down the street.” Callie removes her hand from my back and lays it on my arm. “Then one day you’d had enough, and you marched over there and swung your bag at it.” Her voice sounds amused, but her eyes are serious. “And this is what you got in return.” She rolls my forearm to the side, revealing the shiny, almost silvery scare tissue, traces her finger over the bite marks, the ripped and remade flesh. “All because you couldn’t bide your time.” She lets go of my arm. “Who won that day, Ivy? You or the dog?”
I glare at her, hating her just a little bit. “The dog,” I finally say.
“But who won in the end?” she asks. The look in her eyes, a kind of wicked triumph, sends a sliver of unease down my spine.
“You did,” I whisper, remembering the morning, not long after I was bitten, when we walked to the market and the dog lay dead, his chain wrapped around his neck, his tongue black where it lolled out of his half-open mouth.

Yes. Soak that in for a minute. Quick disclaimer: I rarely ever curse in my reviews, in an effort to maintain some professionalism. I am going to curse now. So if it offends you, you might want to stop reading this instant.

You killed a dog, because it was fucking barking at you? While chained to a fucking fence for Christ’s sake? And yes, it bit you. Because you were fucking dumb enough to try to hit it with your bag. For barking. You deserve to get bitten. And then, in payback for your own stupidity you actually killed it? Fucking really?! I could understand if the dog was loose, and came at you unprovoked. Then, by all means, defend yourself in whatever way necessary. But the dog was tied up and couldn’t even get away. And you’re wickedly triumphant over killing a dog for basically no reason? You’re a piece of shit.

That is completely and utterly unnecessary, and I am not okay with reading a book with shit like this in it. I feel like this was only meant to elicit an emotional response from readers. Well, guess what? It worked. Too bad I won’t be finishing it because of that. Any kind of unnecessary animal abuse or murder is cause for DNF for me, because I have no desire to read about it. Yes, I know it exists, but I see enough of that on TV and at work (I work with animals). I do not need to read about it, too. It also makes me blacklist the author.

Jessi (Geo)

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11 responses to “DNF Review: The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

  1. I wasn’t interested in this one, for the same reasons as you, but now I’m definitely glad I wasn’t interested. I wouldn’t have DNFed, but ew. I would rate down for that. There are other ways to get a response out of readers without that low blow. :(

  2. I was really excited to get around to this book but now I am completely put off! I can’t watch or read anything to do with animal abuse and to have something as unnecessary as that thrown in is just not okay!

  3. Okay, I’m totally not ever going to read this. I’m glad you called my attention to that. I could not stand to read something like that. It would make me so mad I’d throw the book across the room! Are these supposed to be the main characters? The fact that one tried hitting with a bat, and then the other one killed it? No way!

  4. That scene you quoted made me sick to my stomach. I wasn’t going to read this book, because I, like yourself, was appalled at the cover. But that scene with the dog just pushed The Book of Ivy straight off the cliff. I will not read a book that condones that behavior and hurts an innocent animal because it was barking and being loud. My dogs are loud and they bark all the time at unnecessary things like the wind or rabbits in the front yard, I don’t go around hitting them with bags and strangling them with their own collar. Ugh. Sick. Disgusting. Glad you DNFed this one.

  5. Yeah I finished this one but I wasn’t crazy about it. A lot of the action seemed really dramatic (like the big bad dog) and nothing was explained regarding WHY they live the way they do.

    The next book, while I’m not really interested, looks like it’ll be a bit more dsytopian, so that’s an improvement I guess.

  6. I saw the cover and was like HELL NO. And when I read the summary, I actually rolled my eyes because “killing the person and wanting to fall in love with them” HAS BEEN DONE. That’s why I’ve stayed away from this book. THANK FRICKIN GOD I DID BECAUSE HOLY SHIZZLES THAT PARAGRAPH MADE ME WANT TO STAB A BROCOLLI.

  7. FINALLY!!!

    Finally I have met someone who agrees with me! I have passed up every opportunity to read this one because I absolutely detest that cover. I felt so alone in my opinion for so long *cries tears of gladness*

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