Monday, July 6, 2015

Ink by Amanda Sun

Goodreads Description: 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.

My Review: I was initially turned off this book by the description. When I realized Katie was a white blonde girl, I rolled my eyes because really, can we EVER get a main character who's not white? I mean, even in a story set in JAPAN, the main character is white? Are you kidding me?! These were the thoughts running through my head. But then I did some research into the author and realized that she is a white woman who lived in Japan for a while and purposely wanted to write from the perspective of an outsider. Perhaps it seems like a cop-out...but it made sense in my mind. The author had been an outsider so naturally, she would write what she knew. Plus, after I read the book, I realized Katie being an outsider in Japan actually played a role in the plot, so I let that whole issue drop.

Aside from that...I'm not really sure what to say about this book. It was neither horrible nor was it brilliant. I can tentatively say that it was a decently entertaining read and was an admirable effort to, at the very least, come up with a creative plot far different from other supernatural or paranormal YA books out there. I can at least give the author kudos on that front; she really did try to create a mythology that I hadn't read about before.

Setting the book in Japan was also nice. I mean, obviously it would be set in Japan, considering the mythology she wrote about—but still. It was fascinating, reading about the little details of daily Japanese living from an American's eyes. I think she did a good job of incorporating Japan and Japanese culture/life into the book without totally overwhelming the reader. 

However, aside from the backdrop of Japan and the unique mythology used...the book was just average. The characters seem to fall a little flat to me. Nothing about them really stood out. Tomohiro seemed like the typical Asshole Love Interest who's mean to the girl to "protect her." BARF. I am so sick of that cliche. And yes, he did have things going on beneath the surface—but honestly, I'm just tired of that surface to begin with. It's a boring, overused surface. 

Katie was a little better...but just a little bit. She did a lot of INCREDIBLY stupid things because she had a feeling that Tomohiro was shady. I'm sorry, but that's very stalker-ish and not very realistic at all. I don't think any girl would willingly creep on a guy like that...especially a guy who gives HER the creeps! Girls tend to be more wary than that. However, Katie also didn't take a lot of Tomo's BS and stood up for herself a fair few times so for that boldness, I'll give her props. Often the heroine just shyly stands around, mumbling and blushing when the Asshole Love Interest is saying something ridiculous, but Katie straight up said, "Cut the bull," a few times so...good on her there. 

The secondary characters felt as flat as paper (ha). The best friends were clearly just fillers there to always invite Katie out at convenient times and warn her against Tomo at convenient times (for reasons that made no sense, either; at one point, her friend warned her against Tomo...but then later admitted that she didn't REALLY know what Tomo had done to be so feared. I'm sorry, but what? You're basically slandering some guy who you're not really SURE if he did anything bad?). And of course, there was a strange third love interest thrust in, to make things awkward and have that forced love triangle which felt very out of place.

I was honestly way more interested in reading about the mythology, Japan, and seeing a little more of Katie's agency than I was in the romance aspect. The romance was cute but it also felt a bit...flat. I didn't feel the sparks. I wish she'd just focused more on the magic, less on the random romance, and developed the secondary characters a bit more. (Although I did like Katie's aunt, she was interesting.)

However, I'll read the second book when I find time because Ink did have potential to be really good and sometimes it takes a while for a story to find its footing. I won't give up hope yet that the second book is good. 

Cover: This cover is so simple and so beautiful. It's absolutely gorgeous and I can't stop staring at it. I wish more YA books utilized art in their covers because the results often turn out really breathtaking. 

Overall Grade: B-

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