Sunday, July 14, 2013

Review: INK by Amanda Sun

Ink (Paper Gods #1)
 
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.
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: July 5, 2013

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Kat's Review
 
I really liked this book.  It's certainly not perfect, and I found myself frustrated with the heroine more often than I would like, but overall I thought this was a fresh new addition to the YA genre.  I especially enjoyed that it incorporated Japanese culture in a way that seemed authentic, and that made it clear that the author had experience with it.  I've seen many reviews of this book, and I think that maybe I liked it so much was because I didn't have any expectations for it going in.  Many of the negative reviews I've seen have been from people who were eagerly anticipating this book as the book of the year, or who have a huge  emotional investment in all things Japanese, which is cool, just that they had something to compare this to that didn't always measure up in their eyes. 

I didn't.  I looked at it as another book on my TBR list, with a fantastic cover and an intriguing storyline.  I'm not a huge anime fan, and I don't really follow Japanese pop culture.  I'm mentioning these things not as a comment on other reviewers, but more as a way to explain where I'm coming from as a reviewer.  INK for me was an intriguing departure on YA books set in the US, and a way to learn a little about Japanese teen culture along the way.
 
Katie moves to Japan to live with her aunt after her mom dies.  After the initial culture shock and dreams of returning home to live with her grandparents, she begins to settle in, making friends and adjusting to the new culture.  And, of course, falling for the bad guy.  Only one gets the sense right from the start that there's more to Tomohiro than meets the eye.  There was certainly a mystery to be uncovered, and Katie wasted no time in trying to figure out what it is. 

I liked this book.  I think there's a need for more diversity in YA (in all genres, really) and having a male love interest that isn't white, is great.  Watching Katie learn to fit in, and ultimately embrace life in Japan, was part of what I liked best about the book.  I'm hoping that next book delves even more into the mythology and ancient traditions.

Rating: A Good Read

I thought this book lived up to the description.  It's not perfect, but it's a pretty solid debut effort.  I enjoyed the Japanese setting, and never felt that the author was relying on stereotypes.  I also must mention that Amanda Sun is a Canadian author, and I'm always happy to support Canadian talent.  Well done.
 

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