Paperback, 377 pages (Reviewer's Copy: ARC)
June 25th 2013, Harlequin Teen
I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look.
Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of a girl lying on a bench.
A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion sickness.
And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine.
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.
Source: Kai + Harlequin Teen (Thank you!!)
When I started reading Ink, I immediately noticed how Katie was trying to immerse herself in a foreign land. Sun did an amazing job with integrating the Japanese culture, language and mythology into the novel, so much so that I felt that the Japanese-ness of Ink became some sort of skeleton, supporting the story. She made me feel like I was actually there, going to a high school. One of the things I really appreciated was the integration of phrases, expressions and sentences in Japanese.
Katie was still mourning the death of her mother. In Ink, I got to see a mature, down-toned sadness that made it all the more pronounced. Katie did not whine about it much nor did she let this melancholy swallow her whole. One of the reasons why I like her was that she always found things to laugh about, joke about or simply point out. Her curiosity was ablaze. She knew what she wanted in life and made sure that she got it.
Tomohiro was mysterious, attractive and hard to read. There was always a sense of mystery around him – hanging questions in the air. He was rude one second, sweetly smiling at you in the next. He was a walking unpredictability, drawing my attention in every chance. As the story progressed, I got glimpses into his life. Tomohiro was so hard to read at first because he wore ‘layers’ over his true self. He was complex, 100% endearing, soft and gentle and so unforgettable.
The paranormal element of Ink was something I have never encountered before and for that, it became all the more unforgettable. I will not reveal anything more than necessary but I will just say this: the kami, the descendants of Amaterasu, and their legend were interesting points for me. As ‘supernaturals’ walking amongst humans, they were both a threat to the public and threatened by people who want to wield their powers. The ink-related abilities in this novel creeped me out, shocked me and amazed me all at the same time.
The writing was beautiful. Ink had the best qualities of an Anime: fun, cute, sweet and imaginative. The action was not overly dramatic but instead it was detailed, coming in bursts of violence and speed. I loved the twists and turns woven into the story, although they were to be expected, walking in this exotic story world left me guessing what was going to happen next. The secondary characters were also great. Yuki and Tanaka were radiant personalities, constantly bringing color and humor into the story.
Katie and Tomohiro’s relationship started out strained and generally soaked in annoyance, rudeness and glares. So I admit that it wasn’t the perfect beginning. After a series of stalker moves, shared secrets and confrontations, the two start to develop feelings for one another. Right now, you might be thinking: typical YA. I beg to disagree. Katie and Tomo have a link, the unavoidable ‘bond’ between YA lovers and this time it was neither entirely destiny nor something supernatural. It was simple shared experience, shared sadness: the deaths and loss of their mothers. This emptiness inside them made them understand each other better. That bridged the gap – cultural and emotional – between them. The attraction and emotional and a bit of sexual tension zinged between Katie and Tomo, a bit blush-inducing, smile-inducing and just so sweet and passionate. Hopeless (and not so hopeless) romantics will love these bits.
Ink is an oriental gem that is masterfully-written and unforgettably engaging. I officially label this as one of my favorite YA reads for 2013, as well as one of the best debuts I’ve ever read. Overall, Ink is intoxicating with its romance, paranormalcy and atmosphere. Pick this up! You won’t regret it. I highly recommend this to readers of paranormal romance and mythology-themed YA books. Full of life, fun and humor, Ink will appeal to readers looking for reads that follow the tradition of our beloved Anime and adventures. At the same time, Ink will appeal to readers who are looking for something unique and oriental especially when it comes to Asian/Japanese mythology.
I will never, ever, ever forget this book. I highly recommend this!