Review: Ink by Amanda Sun

Ink by Amanda SunOn the heels of a family tragedy, Katie Greene must 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.

​When Katie meets aloof but gorgeous Tomohiro, the star of the school’s kendo team, she is intrigued by him…and a little scared. His tough attitude seems meant to keep her at a distance, and when they’re near each other, strange things happen. Pens explode. Ink drips from nowhere. And unless Katie is seeing things, drawings come to life.

​Somehow Tomo is connected to the kami, powerful ancient beings who once ruled Japan— and as feelings develop between Katie and Tomo, things begin to spiral out of control. The wrong people are starting to ask questions, and if they discover the truth, no one will be safe.

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Review

It’s probably unfortunate for Ink, but I had high hopes when I came across the title. Before I even read the synopsis I knew I was going to add this book to my TBR list. The cover itself is gorgeous and I love art. Finding out Ink takes place in Japan and is infused with Japanese mythology was the clincher. Apart from the fact there aren’t that many young adult stories set in Japan, I’ve been interested in Japanese culture since I can remember. So naturally I was excited to read Ink.

I should probably know better than to set my expectations highly when it comes to young adult fiction, especially when the main character is a girl, the side character is a mysterious boy, and something paranormal or supernatural is occurring. I just couldn’t help myself in this instance, blame it on the setting, and have to say I was disappointed. Sadly disappointed.

Everything started out well. The story was wrapped up in Japanese culture, language, and illustrations. The main character Katie is American, which I believe makes the story much more accessible to those who aren’t Japanese or immersed in Japanese culture. The side characters were adorable; I loved Yuki and Tanaka. The mystery of moving drawings was a tantalising one, especially seeing as it’s not tied to Western mythology.

The story itself was easy to read, but it was the setting and culture that kept me going. It wasn’t long before Yuki and Tanaka were phased out and the mystery boy, Tomohiro, took the majority of side-character arc. Unfortunately, before halfway, I started thinking of Twilight every few pages.

To be fair, Katie is a stronger character, Tomohiro is less domineering, but the similarities are too many and distracting because of it. It’s not necessarily story line, but more clichés and stereotypes. Tomohiro is the bad boy outcast in the group and Katie’s friends warn her away. Naturally she ignores that advice and becomes obsessed with the boy, whom she decides isn’t really a jerk, but he actually is.

SPOILER ALERT

Katie sees her friends less, starts out as wanting to go back to America and ends up deciding home is where her heart is a.k.a. Tomohiro, she discovers there’s ink in her blood and the ink wants her, Tomohiro is dangerous for her, Tomohiro keeps saying he is a monster and she doesn’t agree, and there’s two warring groups who want to get a hold of them.

END SPOILER

While I say Ink reminded me of Twilight, Twilight is just a good example of what you can expect. Switch the names, switch the culture, switch the setting, and change-up the mythos; Ink is yet another paranormal young adult romance that embraces the same loves, dangers, and conflicts as many others.

The story and characters didn’t grab me, but I did love the setting, I loved the use of language mixed in with English, and appreciated the illustrations interspersed throughout. I may not be won over, maybe I’m too tired of the whole girl-meets-mysterious-jerk-boy-with-a-secret love story, but I can see how Ink would appeal to many and not just lovers of Twilight.

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