The Book of Ivy is yet another YA novel set in a dystopian society in which the world has been destroyed by nuclear war and a greatly diminished population struggles to keep the human race alive. The individuals who survived the war are divided by allegiances to the Westfall and Lattimer families who settled the area they occupy. The Westfall family fell out of power and must obey the often oppressive government ruled by President Lattimer. In this society, the daughters of the losing side of the battle must enter into an arranged marriage with the winning side of the conflict and the daughters of the winning side marry the men on the losing side. This is done in an effort to maintain peace and diminish the likelihood of uprisings against the government. When Ivy Westfall is sixteen years old, it is her turn to be married. Unlike other girls her age, however, she is destined to be married to President Lattimer's son. What the Lattimer family does not know is that she has been tasked with a secret mission to take down their family and kill her new husband so her family can rise to power and rule.
The plot of this novel does not bring anything new to the vast number dystopian stories that have been written. The world-building is vague and a little underwhelming, and there are some inconsistencies that are difficult to dismiss. This society seems to be largely homogenous and Caucasian (not realistic), and how the characters obtain certain necessities for survival is a mystery. There are multiple scenes in which Bishop and Ivy eat things like eggs, steak, sandwiches with lunch meat, cheese, strawberries and pastries. These people also have running water and take daily showers without thought of radioactive material contaminating their water. How is it that their water doesn't make them sick, and how do cows and chickens survive a nuclear war that decimates most of the world's population? We don't see any farming communities or greenhouses in the story and it doesn't sound like this community goes outside the fence to hunt, so it is a puzzle how these people are able to conserve and produce basic resources needed for survival. We're also told that people have the option to work if they want to but it's not a requirement for newly wed couples whose main purpose is to be fruitful and multiply.....wouldn't a population of only ten thousand people need to band together and work to produce precious resources, especially the younger and likely stronger members of the community? I really don't get it.
Although there are multiple inconsistencies with the plot and the world-building is average, Ivy's life is compelling. Her portrayal as a vulnerable sixteen year old girl is believable and it is not hard to understand her motives or conflicted feelings. She has been isolated from other people in her community and wants nothing more than to please her father. She is still very young and is not ready for marriage, especially to a complete stranger who is disliked by her family. It's easy to sympathize with her as family secrets are revealed and she gradually allows herself to get to know Bishop Lattimer. Bishop is not the monster described to Ivy and is nothing like his father, which makes Ivy's mission for vengeance increasingly difficult to carry out. Torn between her loyalty to her family and a growing attachment to her husband, she is forced to come to terms about who she is and who she wants to be.
The book is nowhere near perfect, but the story is entertaining and I am anxious to find out what happens to Ivy and Bishop in the next book, which is scheduled to be released in November.
GENRE: PNR; Steampunk
LENGTH: 432 (MMP pgs)
HEAT LEVEL (content): sexy-hot (m/f vanilla; frank but not overly explicit/extended)
PUBLISHER/pub date: Forever (GCP/Hachette); August 2014
SERIES INFO (timeline): Darkest London #5 (@ 1yr after end of #4)
FORMAT (source): MMP (own); Audio (borrow)
Once the night comes...
Will Thorne is living a nightmare, his sanity slowly being drained away by a force he can’t control. His talents have made him the perfect assassin for hire. But as he loses his grip on reality, there is no calming him—until he finds his next target: the mysterious Holly Evernight.
Love must cast aside the shadows...
Holly cannot fathom who would put a contract on her life, yet the moment she touches Will, the connection between them is elemental, undeniable—and she’s the only one who can tame his bouts of madness. But other assassins are coming for Holly. Will must transform from killer to protector and find the man who wants Holly dead...or his only chance for redemption will be lost.
Still captivated by the narrating skills of Moira Quirk, I barely touched my DTB copy & continued with this series via audio. Thus, 4-star rating is influenced by my listening experience. If I were to rate the story on its own, it would be more 3-3.5 stars.
Overall, I did enjoy this installment of the Darkest London series but it fell a bit flat, especially after a 5-star reading (listening) of the previous book, Shadowdance. Unlike in earlier books, I found some diversions from the main storyline to be more disruptive than necessary. And plot-wise, there were more than a few weak and/or unaddressed points (some due to minor instances of deus ex machina). This resulted in a vague feeling of dissatisfaction with the dénouement of both the action/mystery and the romance. And the final (tiny) nail in coffin was a personal pet peeve: even with certain open items, the epilogue dealt with the next book/couple, as opposed to wrapping up things re: Will and Holly. :/
Nonetheless, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book (and entire series) to PNR/steampunk fans. And despite loss of some momentum re: series, I already got & listened to the next book, Soulbound, which was released on 24-Feb-2015.
Oh man, why can't I listen faster?! LOL/*smh*
This series continues to progress in strong fashion, with this book #5 picking up @ 1yr after book #4, ‘Shadowdance’. I’ve been too busy reading this series to pause for anything other than quick posts on GR or verbal chit-chat IRL, so may post an abbreviated ‘series in review’ soon. Unless *cough* waylaid due to reading ‘Soulbound’, #6 which is due out today :)
In meantime, here’s a tidbit from ‘Evernight’... Be well, everyone!
“I’m going to…” She cleared her throat. “I shall rub you down, thoroughly concentrating on each area. Hopefully, it will slow the progress of the metal more effectively than simply putting my hand upon your chest.”
A slow, wide grin pulled at his lips. “Let me see if I have this correctly,” he said, struggling not to crow, “you are going to rub your hands all over my body…”—she narrowed her eyes in distaste, which only made his grin reach epic proportions—“slowly and thoroughly—”
“Really, Mr. Thorne.”
“While my part in it is to lie here and take it?” His cheeks ached from smiling. “Is that the plan?”
By the time she’d finished with him, with a little encouraging pat and a request that he rest quiet like a good lad, there was no point in denying it: Holly Evernight would be the death of him.