ARC Review: Ink by Amanda Sun
Ink (Paper Gods #1)
by: Amanda Sun
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: e-arc provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review
Page Count: 377 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
I went into this book with some hesitation. I've seen a lot of mixed reviews so I didn't want to get my hopes up. However, I ended up really enjoying this one, personally. Sure, there were some issues but I gave it a 3.5 star rating just because I felt the story had a good flow, the pacing went very well, and I was engaged from the beginning. I did not want to stop reading and my ADD didn't kick in quite as bad as some other books I've read lately.
Katie is our main character and she (like you read above) is living in Japan with her aunt, after her mom passed away. She is really having trouble getting acclimated to the new culture and her new surroundings. She is struggling to learn the language, she easily forgets Japanese customs (using names too informally, hugs/touches, etc.) and she has not made that many new friends. She misses her mom terribly and wants nothing more than to return home to live with her grandparents.
The story immediately begins with Katie not remembering her slippers and she ends up listening in on a fight between Tomohiro and his girlfriend Myu. Tomohiro, as her friends warned, is the resident older bad boy that she should steer clear of. During their fight, his girlfriend gets upset and throws his notebook, causing his pages to scatter. Katie happens to pick one up and notices the drawing moves. She is beyond freaked out, and it doesn't help matters that Tomohiro notices her. Obviously, after having a fight and breaking up with his girlfriend he is not going to be overly friendly. She confronts him about the drawing to which he ignores and only responds with "Don't you speak Japanese?" I noticed that Katie embarrasses very easily throughout the book and I found it interesting how many times Sun said that she felt shame for some of her actions.
The next day at school Tomohiro tries to intimidate and frighten her, but she isn't easily deterred. I loved how Katie stood up to him and tried to let him know that she wasn't afraid of him. It didn't exactly work in her favor, but the girl had guts. Here's where things get a bit clichéd. Despite him embarrassing her on a couple of occasions and his obvious ruse to scare her off, she is drawn to him. She can't get his eyes or his amused smile out of her head. After Katie has another episode with her doodles coming to life and sees Tomohiro nearby, she knows something is up. And she's determined to figure it out. This is where Katie goes all stalker mode. She keeps popping up where he is (she joins the Kendo Club!) and she even resorts to following him! She has been warned that this guy is dangerous, she has seen first- hand that he is not nice to her, and now twice in his presence she has seen drawings move. Why the heck would you follow this guy alone?!
Of course, things are not as they seem with Tomohiro- once Katie gets in deeper, she sees that he's really more than meets the eye and is not as cruel as he leads her to believe. It's the whole 'I'm going to be a jerk to you because I can't let you get too close to me because I will hurt you if you do' mentality. Needless to say, even after the stalking, Tomohiro begins to trust Katie and even fall for her. As you read above, Katie makes his abilities spiral out of control, so even though he has feelings for her, he knows he has to push her away for her own safety. Despite being hurt, she doesn't listen and still ends up in danger.
Even though the story definitely has its predictable moments, Sun is still able to pull you in and are able to enjoy the action unfolding towards the end. We only get a small dose of the mythology, just enough to explain how it connects to Tomohiro and Katie. We still have plenty of questions about Katie, her connection to the Kami, her parents history, etc which hopefully will be addressed in the next installment.
I did feel like we only got to know Katie and Tomo on a very surface level. We did learn key things about their past, but I still don't feel like I connected with either of them like I had hoped.
I thought Amanda did a really good job on world building though. As I said earlier, I liked learning about some of the Japanese customs and it was really cool how she brought in the Yakuza (which I have to say I've learned about in Hawaii 5-0 this past season) and was able to merge their storyline with Katie, Tomo, and the Kami's.
As an American myself, watching Katie do things we would not think twice about (giving a hug to a friend, calling a friend by their first name) is quite interesting and I found myself looking forward to seeing more cultural differences.
I would say that if you can look past the clichéd characters and a somewhat predictable outcome, definitely give this a go. The world building, the culture, and the great pacing far outweighed the other things for me so I was able to enjoy this one.
(I feel like I did a horrible job of reviewing this- so I apologize if you still have questions. I definitely didn't want to ruin anything and my thoughts are quite jumbled today.)