Amy Engel completes her The Book of Ivy Series just and powerfully as it began with The Revolution of Ivy.

From the book flap:

Ivy Westfall is beyond the fence and she is alone. Abandoned by her family and separated from Bishop Lattimer, Ivy must find a way to survive on her own in a land filled with countless dangers, both human and natural. She has traded a more civilized type of cruelty–forced marriages and murder plots–for the bare-knuckled brutality required to survive outside Westfall’s borders. But there is hope beyond the fence, as well. And when Bishop reappears in Ivy’s life, she must decide if returning to Westfall to take a final stand for what she believes is right is worth losing everything she’s fought for.

Overall: Amy Engel’s conclusion to The Book of Ivy Series hits the ground running. The book starts off with Ivy’s first night beyond the safety of the fence that separates the civilization of the town of Westfall with the brutality beyond. Ivy manages to survive (just barely), but Engel pulls no punches about what it takes to make it in a lawless wilderness. Ivy, who has long been fighting to keep her humanity as she plotted to kill the innocent boy she grew to love, must once again remake herself if she’s going to live.

Despite thoroughly enjoying Book #1, I was convinced I would be disappointed with the conclusion to the series. I figured Engel couldn’t get the same results once Ivy crossed the fence. Boy was I wrong. Engel continues her masterful character building beyond the wall with individuals who are bent but not broken, trying to cobble together a world amongst the rubble of civilization. Ivy is clearly suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from her brutal experiences on both sides of the fence. By the time she reaches a band of outcasts she has been ground down, starved, attacked and practically left for dead. Add the betrayals by her own family in Book #1, and you get a girl barely holding on. When Bishop turns up Ivy’s already frayed emotions short circuit and threaten to ignite a fire that could consume them both.

The Revolution of Ivy is stark, gray and sad, yet there are small acts of kindness throughout to temper the brutality. There is harsh reality, but hope creeps through the cracks and edges of this landscape. Engel’s tale of a girl pushed to her emotional limits and trying to find her way back again is one of the hidden gems of 2015.

Judge a Book by its Cover:  The Book of Ivy was all about subterfuge, the cover showing Ivy with a knife concealed behind her back. For the cover of The Revolution of Ivy, the knife is pointed directly at the reader, letting us know that all the violence will be front and center.

Me Talk Pretty:  For a book whose premise screams ACTION, The Revolution of Ivy is more  dialogue driven than I expected. It’s less Hunger Games, more mind games in a way that is suspenseful, thoughtful and real. For some reasons this book reminds me of season 2 of the Walking Dead where they’re trapped in the farmhouse (in a good way); it’s very psychological.  The terror of human nature, loss and regret can be far more menacing than what’s lurking in the woods.

 Kick-Ass Factor: Any book that has a butcher knife wielding teenage girl on the cover is bound to have action. Ivy has to kick ass in this book if she’s going to survive. And asses she does kick. But Engel is not cavalier about the cost of violence. Each blow leaves a physical scar on the  victim as well and an emotional scar on the aggressor,  but emotional scars are much harder to heal than physical ones.

The Chosen One: This is Ivy’s story, but she is no savior. Ivy is flawed and confused. Her father and sister, the only people who she believed could ever love her, sent her on a suicide mission in Book #1, and when she doesn’t succeed they seem content to abandon her to her fate without a second thought. Ivy is faced with questions of duty, loyalty, trust and what really makes a “family”.

He Said/She Said:

“I just want to be with you. Walk next to you, Ivy, wherever you’re headed. That’s all.” -Bishop

Warning Bishop- it’s not going to be an easy road.

Don’t Believe the Hype: Engel’s The Book of Ivy, #2 is woefully underrated. I think because 2015 was a powerhouse year of releases, this book didn’t get the attention it deserved. I almost didn’t fit it onto the 2015 reading list but I’m glad I did. Hopefully as people make their way through their TBR pile they rediscover Ivy.

Open tab/Last call: After a stint in the world beyond the fence with nothing but dirty lake water and moonshine, we invite Amy Engel to join us for a proper drink. We’ll keep the tab open all night.

The Revolution of Ivy (The Book of Ivy #2) by Amy Engel, Published Nov. 2015, Entangled: Teen, 400 pages.