Remember a long time ago, I did Loony Blurbs? Ink was one of the books where I made a blurb based on the title. (Read it here) Anyway, I actually did read Ink, and (apart from being entirely wrong in my prediction, I’m not sure how to feel.
Author: Amanda Sun
Genre: YA urban fantasy?
Themes: Living overseas, death, the bad boy, spirits, dealing with grief
Blurb(from Goodreads, because it’s hard to explain): On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.
Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they’ll both be targets.
Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.
The setting was excellent. I loved how well Japan was portrayed, at the school, in the city, and strange combination of old and new culture. The way the characters fit in to this worked well. I loved the premise- the idea of an outsider coming to Japan, coping with the grief of her mother’s death and language barriers. All the japanese words thrown in were cool, even though sometimes I was confused (there was a glossary at the back though). The power of ink seemed really cool as well.
The plot was interesting. I think it was surprising enough but not too surprising. I liked the twist on the ‘good girl meets bad boy genre’, and how each action connected to Katie’s changing perspective of Japan. However, sometimes I think the plat had a bit too much going on- there was the who’s going to win the kendo tournament?, the battle over the ink for Tomohiro and other characters (which I expected to be more central, actually), the gang undertones, katie dealing with living in a new place and curfew and new friends, and there was just a lot going on. Too much to completely keep track of, to be honest.
I liked the characters! I think they were quite well developed, although I wanted a bit more backstory on katie and her mother and her death. She says ‘oh I want to go home’ but never explains what’s so great about home, why she wants to go back. He motivations were a bit weird. Her relationship with Tomohiro was a bit sudden and why she has feelings for him really wasn’t explained either. But I did like her and root for her, and her development was well portrayed. Then there was Tomohiro. I also liked him, but I wanted some more backstory. His development wasn’t significant, except having more control over the ink, and he seems to have a bad father, but then this isn’t really explored. Neither is his power over ink. Like, I kind of got it, but maybe 3 more paragraphs explaining exactly how it works and what is power is would have been nice. They all claim stuf like ‘you’re reacting to the ink’ but don’t explain what this actually means.
The writing style was where my main problems lay. It was fine at times, but in other places, I was just confused. I couldn’t tell what was happening, or I knew she was in the city but they didn’t explain how. Katie’s voice didn’t quite feel natural. She would say things, but then other sentences contradicted (I felt) her character. There were some attempts at humour, but they really weren’t funny, because Katie never said any jokes aloud. So suddenly ‘my effort to do my hair failed’ felt really out of place. I couldn’t get a grip on her character, and I was just confused.
Confused is how I’d summarise the entire book. I loved the idea, but most of it wasn’t executed well enough for me to really love it. While the plot was fun, it had too much going on, I didn’t really understand the characters or even how this ink power, the premise of the novel, worked. I was expecting a middle fantasy where they entered a different world (I don’t know why), and that’s not what I got. I loved the setting, though, and I don’t regret reading it.
Have you read Ink? Have you been to Japan? What’s a book in a unique setting you’ve read recently?