Source: Harlequin Teen/Netgalley – I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation.
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Edition: Egalley, 377 pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon/ Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
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.
I barely looked at the summary of this one before I hit request because I saw all I needed to see on that first glance. The words ‘Japan’ and ‘ancient gods’. If you don’t know by now I hold a spot in my heart for Japanese related things like myths/religion, culture, anime, manga, and music. So I guess you could say I was going to love it no matter what but at the same time I have a high expectation so it’s not a given.
Ink turned out to be a fantastic read! Katie Greene is an American who due to her mother’s death now has to live with her aunt in Japan. She not only has to deal with the fact that she doesn’t know the language and the culture, but to top things off Yuu Tomohiro (Tomohiro Yuu for the Westerns ;P , last names always go first in Japan) is drawing attention to himself with some very strange artwork. It moves and seems to have a life of its own and despite the danger she feels from Tomo she knows she can’t turn a blind eye to it.
I loved the mix of a modern setting and the old Japanese gods like Amaterasu and the Kami. The fact that each drawing and calligraphy mark holds such potential and creation is just awesome. (For video game geeks think along the lines of Okami). We get to see Japan like a contemporary at times with it’s sakura blossoms, rigorous schooling, and even the crime. It touches on a few darker topics as well, like what kind of effect that rigorous schooling has on some kids. I also enjoyed the fact that Amanda took the time to include the Japanese language in the dialogue. It sounds a bit daunting but most of the words are translated a little later into the text or the context clues are rather strong, however if it still seems like you’re not understand some of the words then there is a glossary in the back to help you.
Katie was so-so for me. I didn’t quite connect with her at times but I enjoyed her personal journey in the story. She grows to love Japan and all the problems she had adjusting in the beginning fade over time. There were times when I didn’t get her reasoning for some of her decisions, like openly talking about pictures moving…I was wondering if someone was going to make her go see a therapist at some point. The character that drew me in was Tomo. He’s mysterious (of course) and he likes to keep it that way, for a very good reason. He works hard to keep people away but we get to see his goofier/softer side, and his love of art is apparent. Tanaka and Yuki are some of the best side characters I’ve read in YA fantasy lately, they are so cute. There were very few times where I didn’t want to squeeze Tanaka.
I’m definitely going to check out the sequel when it’s available because I have to know what Katie is going to do next. I’m hoping to see more Japanese related YA in the coming years, especially if it has as much creativity as Ink does.