After taking a year-long hiatus from reading dystopian novels - I'm back with Amy Engel's praised debut, The Book of Ivy.
In this dystopian world, people are controlled by arranged marriages. Everyone takes a personality test when they are about 15/16 and are matched; the day they meet is the day they get married. This system was a result of a war. The nation that survived is enclosed by a fence. So within this fence are two societies: the richer Lattimers and the poorer Westfalls. The Westfall family were the founders of this nation but the Lattimers sort of took the power from them. In order to preserve their name, they've been marrying off Westfall daughters to Lattimer sons.
When Ivy Westfall turns 16 its her turn to marry Bishop Lattimer. She and her family decide that she will kill Bishop and his father, in order to restore power to the Westfall family.
The fast half of the book is pretty slow going. When Ivy gets married, she doesn't really talk to Bishop because they are strangers and frankly have been put in a pretty horrific situation. I think you'll immediately be on her side and sympathize with her and her family. They are hoping to put an end to these arranged marriages, among other undemocratic laws imposed on the people by the Lattimers. So I felt not only was I immediately on her side but nothing is happening because there isn't really much dialogue between Ivy and Bishop and after the marriage, that is probably all you'll bethinking off.
This really picks up in the second half where everything suddenly becomes very exciting and fast paced. When Ivy gradually gets to know Bishop and everything we thought about him, the Lattimers and most importantly Ivy's own family starts to change. Like Ivy, we start to second guess ourselves. Who should we really be supporting?