When you read a lot of books, especially YA, sometimes they tend to blur altogether. A book needs a certain quality to stand out amongst the rapidly growing genre, and Amanda Sun’s new book, Ink, definitely has that. Ink’s backdrop of modern Japan is what really sets it apart. I believe it’s the first time I’ve read a YA book that took place in Japan and had a story rooted in Japanese culture.
Ink, the first book in the Paper Gods series, follows American girl, Katie Greene, adjusting to her new life in Japan. Her mother recently died, leaving her in the care of her aunt, Diane, who happens to live on the other side of the world. So far, Katie is doing well with learning the new language and understanding new customs, even if she feels a little awkward at times. As culture shocked as she may be, she’s transitioning nicely. Until she meets Tomo, the very attractive and mysterious bad boy that she finds herself captivated by. Ignoring the advice of her friends and Tomo himself, she can’t stop herself from trying to figure out what’s his deal, especially when it seems like it must be otherworldly. It leads Katie into a magical world she never could imagine, along with dangers, sacrifices and even some romance.
The romance that develops between Katie and Tomo is familiar, even though the unique backdrop and unpredictable plotting counterbalance it. I wasn’t completely sold on Katie’s fascination with Tomo, which happened straightaway and didn’t give me a chance to understand why she would like someone like Tomo, who at the time seemed like a cocky jerk. But eventually, I did grow to understand the attraction, and I do think the chemistry was there between them, but it didn’t have as much sizzle as I hoped it would have.
Still, the rest of the story is pretty entertaining. Like I said, Japan and the kami mythology help make this story fresh. I wasn’t familiar with the kami gods and their stories, so Ink ended up being a very original read for me. I also appreciated how the author integrated the Japanese culture and language in the book; it helped transport me in to Katie’s world. However, I did find the pacing uneven at places. The beginning is slow, speeds up and down in the middle and then puts the pedal to the metal at the end.
If you’re looking for something truly different in YA, Ink is a sure bet. It’s a good start to a series and could grow into something sweepingly epic. Despite some frustrations with the characters throughout the book, you’ll find yourself wanting more of them by the end of the novel.
Ink by Amanda Sun is now available wherever books are sold. Support The Young Folks and purchase the book at our TYF Store, powered by Amazon.
Publisher: Harlequin Teen (June 25, 2013)
Length: 384 pages (Hardcover)
Series: Paper Gods #1
Source: ARC (Provided by Publisher)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Japan, Mythology
Completed: July 2013