Friday, June 28, 2013

Ink - Amanda Sun

Ink - Amanda Sun
Ink by Amanda Sun
Series: Paper Gods #1
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Source/Format: Publisher (Thanks Harlequin!) || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

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. (from Goodreads)

Ink promises the reader a taste of Japan, its mythology and a fresh romance, and delivers on all three. It’s a read that will appeal to fans of Japanese anime, with prose that provides a startlingly visual reading experience. 

Sun has written her story in a way that balances both description and action. She makes use of words that paint an extraordinarily realistic portrait of Japan, all while still effectively telling the story. As mentioned, the writing is very visual, allowing the story to truly come to life in front of the reader’s eyes. Because of this, it’s fairly easily to get completely lost in this story as you read. 

Her use of Japanese words and phrases certainly adds an authentic touch. As a (former) anime junkie, many of them were familiar to me and it was a pleasure to encounter them. But people who don’t know any Japanese shouldn’t fear! It’s fairly easy to discover their definitions, as either the characters explain it or you can pick up on the context clues. 

She also mentions various Japanese rituals, such as the tea ceremony and the cherry blossom celebration, as well as kendo (a Japanese fighting sport). But what really reeled me in was Sun’s incorporation of the Japanese gods. While only the basics of Japanese mythology are familiar to me, her method of weaving it into her story is really strong. It’s subtle, actually believable and slightly fanciful. 

The story was very well-written, combining contemporary situations effortlessly with the paranormal elements. It focuses a lot on Katie’s struggles, which include dealing with the loss of her mother, being a stranger in a complete foreign place where English isn’t the primary language and trying to figure Tomohiro out. The paranormal part does lead to certain situations, and even a predictable romance, but for the most part, it remains simply the catalyst in the background. Basically, the book revolves around Katie looking for answers - and if you want to find out if she finds them, you’ll have to read it. 

My only (minor) reservation is the characters, all of them but particularly Katie and Tomohiro. They’re not very easy to like. In fact, they’re downright frustrating most of the time. Readers have the opportunity to learn just enough about each of them, and nothing more than that, which didn’t help. 

Sun wrote Katie as the foreigner, the gaijin, in Japan only because of her circumstances. There’s hints as to her struggle and the riot of emotions in the early chapters. But once her focus shifts to Tomohiro, that aspect fades completely into the background. The changes in her attitude and feelings are only markedly clear again at the end, when she’s adjusted to Japan. Honestly, it felt as if her budding romance was what helped her really blossom. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I did want her to figure things out for herself. Still, the novel ends with her finally taking charge of her life. That alone makes me curious to see if she’s changed in the next one! 

The relationship Katie forms with Tomohiro is something I’m torn about. I like how they started off as enemies, then gradually became friends, followed by becoming something more. But I won’t lie - it felt very insta-love at some points. Clearly, a big part of this lies in the fact that there’s a supernatural connection between them, so I could mostly forgive them moving too fast. I did enjoy certain moments they shared, but I’m still questioning the driving force behind their relationship.

Ink, overall, is an enjoyable story. It accurately portrays Japan and Japanese culture, which is something readers will enjoy. It also tells the story well, packing in some action and sweetness and sorrow. Finishing the novel felt like ending the first season of an anime: you’re satisfied, but there are still unanswered questions. Clearly, it means that readers will need to pick up the second novel to find out more - and I definitely will.

11 comments:

  1. I'm glad you managed to enjoy this one much more than I did :) I definitely agree, the setting was very authentic and appealed to my (former) anime-obsessed self as well. But I found the characters simply too unlikable... and the instalove too prominent. I also found it weird how Katie had so little trouble to adjust to the culture, almost like the author forgot about that element in the middle of the book. Oh well. Awesome review! :)

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    1. I did have my issues with Katie and Tomohiro as characters, particularly when they fell in love. It was truly insta-love, of course. But I think I just brushed it aside because it reminded me of the animes I'd watched where a similar thing happens!

      You make a really valid point when it comes to the bit about Katie adjusting to Japan though. I think the author may have just jumped ahead a little, and didn't show us Katie's struggle very much towards the last two thirds.

      Thank you!

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  2. I was immensely disappointed in this book. Definitely my biggest problem, like you, was the characters. I just couldn't figure out Tomohiro or Katie. Not only did I never connect with them, but I also couldn't understand the reasons behind their actions.

    I wasn't a fan of the writing either, though. And although I understand why she used to man Japanese words, I wish she used a select few, because I ended up stumbling over a lot of them.

    But I'm glad that you enjoyed this one.

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    1. I can understand why other people would find this book disappointing. To me, it really caters to a certain kind of reader -- and that's okay! I'm sorry your reading experience with Ink didn't turn out well :(

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  3. I'm looking forward to the Japanese sphere in this book. I don't think I've ever read a book about Japan and it's such an interesting country. It's a shame that the relationship and characters weren't that great, but I think the descriptions will be enjoyable :)

    Mel@thedailyprophecy.

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    1. I really hope you like it! The Japanese setting + culture are very well-done in this book. As a big fan of Japanese culture, I definitely liked that bit of it!

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  4. I'm glad you liked this one! I really did as well, but I had so many issues with the main characters that I forgot a little what I liked about it. I hope the sequel focuses more on the fantasy and culture, because those were aspects I LOVED.

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    1. I can understand the issues with the characters, as I had them too. They didn't end up bothering me all too much though, so I really liked it! It made me think of some old animes I watched a long time ago, and I think that was also part of the reason I liked it a lot.

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  5. Althought the setting and premise appeal to me, I am really afraid that the characters and the romance will prevent me from liking this book. Maybe I'll give it a try but be ready to put it down if I see it going south.

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  6. LOL, I used to be a really big anime junkie too but have really calmed down on that.

    I'm glad to have a copy of Ink from BEA as the setting sounds freakin' awesome. Also, I am okay with unlikable characters.

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  7. seorang istri terkadang ingin lebih merasakan saat berhubungan dengan pasangannya lebih memuaskan maka dari itu kami memperkenalkan produk obat kuat tahan lama yang khusus untuk pria yang tidak ada gangguan ereksi.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)

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