Review: Ink

Ink
Ink by Amanda Sun
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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.

In an industry where almost all the top YA novels are set in US or somewhere like Europe (even those are rare), Ink is fresh and exotic with its Japanese setting. I honestly was intrigued because for the first time, I was reading a YA book set in Japan with the paranormal legends from Japan. Having read plenty of manga and light novels, I honestly can say the writing was in sync with the setting. It had a distinctive style and the even the cultural nuances were so on the mark – the behavior of the characters, how they speak to each other, and other details like the day-to-day things that Katie does. The realistic storytelling completely drew me in, and the darker tones to the story intrigued me.

Katie is such a strong girl; fearless and doesn’t back down from a challenge. Few would actually have the courage to go to an entirely foreign country where you don’t even know the language properly. Japanese is a tough language and reading it is particularly a challenge. Even conversations have these little rules, differences for a single statement based on who you were talking to. She braves it, though stumbling along the way, while fitting into a traditional school. Tomohiro, a loner, who is used to pushing people away for their safety, is quite complex and layered. He believes he is less than human, and the Kami within him is bursting to take over. Katie unbalances him, surprises him with her pushiness and borderline stalker-like tendencies. He does have his low moments (especially when he is trying to ‘protect’) – for which Katie calls him out on, overall he is a good guy. The dynamic between them is so cute – with the banter and snarkiness. Perhaps if you are not used to any Japanese works, it might seem a bit odd at times – with how much emphasis they put on names.

The mythology was interesting, with the Kami being spirits passed along a bloodline that can control ink and make it create and do their bidding. I am definitely hoping for more details, though – especially about the dreams Tomohiro had in Shadows, the prequel. Katie being present in his dreams seemed quite a crucial thing which never came up in Ink, so I was a bit disappointed when that wasn’t explained. Basically, a great read if you are into Japanese legends or are looking for something new in the paranormal genre.

Received a copy from Harlequin Teen via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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