Book Review: ‘The Revolution of Ivy’ by Amy Engel

The Revolution of Ivy by Amy EngelIt’s pretty rare for a story to end on a literal cliffhanger, but Amy Engel’s The Book of Ivy came awfully close, and I’ve been waiting a year to find out what happens next! Finally the sequel, The Revolution of Ivy, is available, and we get some answers. This is where you need to stop reading if you don’t want The Book of Ivy spoiled for you.

Okay, all good? Excellent. The Revolution of Ivy picks up exactly where The Book of Ivy left off – our heroine, Ivy, has been forced outside the fence surrounding Westfall, left to fend for herself as punishment for her ploy to kill Bishop. Of course we know Ivy is actually doing this to protect Bishop, but that doesn’t make it any easier for her to leave him behind. And surviving on her own without basic resources for food, water, and shelter…it’s no easy feat.

The Revolution of Ivy begins purely as a survival story as we follow Ivy as she simply tries to stay alive beyond the fence, but eventually evolves into a story of community and family, and, finally, redemption. I was a little worried about how the story would take shape with the environment changing so much between books, but I actually really enjoyed the story of Ivy’s survival outside the fence. Engel did a lovely job of using it as a means of character growth for Ivy, but also tying it back in with the larger story of political upheaval in Westfall.

Some familiar characters make appearances (yes, we do encounter Bishop again, although I won’t spoil the context or to what extent) and some fantastic new ones are introduced. I enjoyed Ash and Caleb, Ivy’s new friends and partners in survival beyond the fence, and their presence added some really interesting layers to the story overall.

I found The Revolution of Ivy to be a fast-paced, quick read…and if I had to pinpoint a weakness, it would be that the end almost feels a little too fast-paced. Things get wrapped up very quickly and neatly. I didn’t mind the events themselves, but they seemed to come up very suddenly and then were over so fast I wasn’t really able to work up an emotional investment in what was happening.

Fortunately I already had enough investment in the main characters at that point that the events at the end of the story were less important to me than the resolution for the characters, and I was happy with that. And I don’t want to nitpick a handful of chapters when the dozens leading up to them were solid, it’s just a shame the end of the series felt rushed after such a lovely set-up.

It seems like these days female narrators in dystopian series are almost obligated to go through some kind of severe mental breakdown. Even if it’s brief, there’s always this moment in every series where the main character is frustratingly weak. There may be a good reason for it, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. Sometimes it would just be nice to see a girl suck it up and get through it while keeping herself pretty well together. And that, in a nutshell, is what I enjoy most about the The Book of Ivy series. There is no point in time where Ivy just completely gives up, or does ridiculous or stupid things because she’s at a breaking point. Even though she has plenty of challenging moments, she handles even near-death with a pretty no-nonsense attitude.

I’d recommend the The Book of Ivy series for readers who enjoy strong female leads, like dystopia but don’t mind if world-building is secondary to story and character development, and who appreciate a quick read over a long series. It’s actually a pretty unique combination to find, and it makes The Book of Ivy and The Revolution of Ivy a fun change of pace.

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