An Interview with ‘Revolution of Ivy’ Author Amy Engel

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The Revolution of Ivy author Amy Engel is a TDQ favorite, and we were thrilled to have the chance to ask her a few questions about completing The Book of Ivy duet and what she has coming up next. The Revolution of Ivy is available now, so if you’re itching to find out what is on the other side of Westfall’s fence, be sure to pick up a copy…and keep reading for our interview with Amy! Continue reading

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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.

‘The Revolution of Ivy’ Exclusive Trailer Release and Giveaway

The Revolution of Ivy by Amy EngelIf you’re a fan of Amy Engel’s The Book of Ivy, you’ve probably been waiting (rather impatiently) to see what becomes of Ivy in the book’s sequel, The Revolution of Ivy. I know I have. Continue reading

An Exclusive Interview with Author Amy Engel

Author Amy Engel (Image Credit: Amy Engel)

Author Amy Engel (Image Credit: Amy Engel)

Debut author Amy Engel may be fairly new to the world of young adult fiction, but you would never know it from her twisty and addictive first novel, The Book of IvyIvy has a bit of everything, from romance to dystopia to espionage, and trust me – you’ll be hooked after just a couple of chapters. Amy was kind enough to answer a few of The Daily Quirk’s questions about her new path as an author and where The Book of Ivy series is headed.

The Daily Quirk: Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you became a writer?

Amy Engel: I always wanted to be a writer, but after college I took the practical route and went to law school. I worked as a criminal defense attorney after graduation and then left the practice of law to stay home with my kids. I promised myself that I would try writing a book and just see what happened. I wrote one novel that wasn’t terrible, but wasn’t very good, either, so I trunked it. After that, I got the idea for The Book of Ivy and was lucky enough to have Entangled Teen pick it up.

TDQWhat was your inspiration for The Book of Ivy? Does the finished story pretty well match up with your original idea, or did it evolve as you wrote?

AE: I’m not really sure what my inspiration was for the book, to be honest. I’ve always been interested in family dynamics and the ways our families influence us, both for good and for ill. But the initial idea pretty much came to me in a flash one morning. I had just a broad idea for the story and knew how I wanted it to begin and how I wanted it to end. The rest was pretty murky and definitely evolved as I wrote. I’m not a writer who outlines; I like discovering the book as I write.

TDQFor me The Book of Ivy was a page-turner; once I started reading I could have kept going for a few hours straight until I finished. What’s the last book you read that gave you that feeling?

AE: First, I’m so glad Ivy was a page turner for you. I definitely wanted readers to be engaged with the story. As for the last page turner I read, it was probably Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell. I was late to the party on that book, but once I began reading I devoured it!

TDQ: What has been the most exciting part of being a published author?

AE: With writing, you often feel like you’re existing in a vacuum. You are alone and writing and pretty much living inside your own head. It’s nice to have my book out in the world where other people can read it. Ivy and Bishop have belonged to only me for so long; I love introducing them to other people.

the-book-of-ivyTDQ: How has the experience writing the conclusion to the series, The Revolution of Ivy, been different from writing the first book?

AE: I probably feel a little more pressure with the sequel. With The Book of Ivy, I was writing for myself only. Now that readers have connected with Ivy and Bishop, I feel an even stronger obligation to make sure I write the best sequel I possibly can.

TDQ: Speaking of which, The Book of Ivy ends on a pretty major cliffhanger. Is there anything at all you can tell us impatient readers about The Revolution of Ivy, or any other upcoming projects?

AE: This is a hard one because I don’t want to spoil anything major! I guess I can say that although The Revolution of Ivy is again Ivy’s story, Bishop is a huge part of who she is now, so her story wouldn’t be complete without Bishop being involved. Also, Ivy is going to learn a lot about who she is, how strong she can be, and what she has the power to endure.

Thank you, Amy, for taking the time to answer our questions! You can learn more about Amy Engel on her website or by following her on Twitter.

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

the-book-of-ivyOkay, so if you’re like me and you read a lot of YA fiction, you might be feeling a little bit of dystopian fatigue. Like paranormal romance before it, dystopian had a big moment in YA the past couple of years and it’s gotten to the point where we’re so saturated with dystopian that even a really good dystopian book can begin to feel old hat or cliche.

I say this because, as much as I try to be aware of these things and judge every book on its own merit, I could not help but compare The Book of Ivy to its predecessors in dystopian YA. But the thing is, a little repetition isn’t a big deal to me as long as the story still resonantes. I’ll admit there’s room for improvement in world-building as The Book of Ivy series progresses, but the dystopian setting did its job as a vehicle for the grander plot despite not being anything particularly new or different. This style might not work for everyone, but I was actually pleasantly surprised at how much I was able to get into The Book of Ivy despite my initial reservations in the early chapters.

The basic story involves Ivy, a girl from the poor part of town, who is in an arranged marriage with Bishop Lattimer, the son of the previously mentioned all-powerful leader. Ivy’s father is the leader of a resistance group attempting to take over power of their little colony, and Ivy’s new marriage is the perfect opportunity. With her access to Bishop, Ivy can play a pivotal role in aiding the resistance – ultimately by killing Bishop.

Oh, but of course there is a catch. As it turns out, Bishop isn’t the terrible human Ivy expected him to be but is instead quite thoughtful and open-minded. Ivy starts to feel a connection to Bishop that causes her to question whether she can actually go through with her father’s murderous plan. Most of the book is spent following Ivy as she settles into her new life as the wife of the President’s son, which mainly involves a lot of awkward encounters with Bishop. There are other things peppered in between – including a couple of little plot twists and a cliffhanger ending.

The interesting thing about The Book of Ivy is that even though it’s hard for me to really explain the forward momentum of the story, it’s actually extremely readable and about a third of the way through it became a downright page-turner for me. Credit that to Engel, I suppose – what this book lacks in dystopian world-building it makes up for with the addicting writing style. And as with most “first” books in dystopian trilogies, there is always room to fill out the world more clearly over time, so I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt there.

One of the things that really helped bring me on board was Ivy herself – she shows true character growth throughout the book and manages to avoid falling into the trap of terrible decision making based on stubborn but silly beliefs. This sort of thing happens a lot in YA, and while I have no problem with a teenager making a bad decision, it’s a lot easier to swallow when it comes from a strong character whose perspective you can understand, even if you don’t agree with it. Ivy is just that – even though her loyalties were misguided, I totally got why. Plus she wasn’t blind in her beliefs, but instead was constantly reassessing them and learning from her experiences. Now that I can get behind, and it goes a long way in making up for any other potential shortcomings with the story.

I’ll also give a shout out to the total lack of instalove in this book. Ivy and Bishop may have been married within the first couple of chapters, but their relationship was far from close, or even comfortable, and it evolved over time. I loved how even though Ivy logically knew she shouldn’t feel any stake in the relationship if she’s just going to kill the guy, she couldn’t help but feel awkward and embarrassed while she was getting to know Bishop. It was a cute, relatable tidbit that made the scenario feel much more realistic than you might expect.

In the end The Book of Ivy really did win me over and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series. As I mentioned, there is a cliffhanger ending and it’s hard to tell what direction the series will take, which I actually really enjoy. Nothing is worse than knowing where a series is headed and being either disappointed it doesn’t live up to your expectations or unmotivated to keep reading when you see it’s going in a direction you don’t like. No problem with that here! Readers who really prefer detailed world-building in their dystopians may be frustrated by this one, but if you don’t mind your dystopian a little on the soapy side with a bit of revenge, a lot of fun, and, of course, a love story, check this one out!

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