Reviewed by: Amy
Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars
Ink is Amanda Sun’s debut novel and the first in a new series. Katie Greene has been sent to live in Japan with her aunt after her mother’s untimely death a few months earlier. Dealing with the culture shock, Katie would rather be living with her grandparents in Canada, but with her grandfather’s ill health she is confined to Japan for the time being.
One morning before school Katie unknowingly walks in on Yuu Tomohiro breaking up with his girlfriend. Intrigued, she can’t help but stay and listen in on the break-up. Katie sees and hears the fight, but when she looks at Tomohiro’s face she knows there’s more to the break-up than he’s letting on, and this interests Katie even more. During the fight Tomohiro’s sketchbook falls to the floor scattering dozens of sketches. Katie picks one up to look at and swears the drawing turns and looks at her. Katie doesn’t know if what she was hallucinating, but she’s determined to find out the mystery of Tomohiro.
The first time I read the synopsis for Ink I was interested. It has a very new premise. Ink drawings coming to life seemingly controlled by ancient Japanese gods. Not something that has been written about before, and it definitely could not have taken place anywhere else but in Japan where they have such a history of calligraphic writing, called kanji. It’s truly an art form.
Amanda Sun does a wonderful job really putting the reader into the setting. I’ve never been to Japan, but Sun was so descriptive that I didn’t feel a barrier by being unfamiliar with the country and its customs. She managed to inform a lot on the customs without making it overshadow the main storyline. They were interwoven perfectly with Katie’s own journey through Japan. I think it helped that Katie, too, was new and needed reminding about certain social traditions.
The book was also beautifully put together. Usually, it’s only a cover (which in this case is beautiful, too) that gets attention, but throughout this book are other drawings and sketches that go along with the reading. It just enhances the reading experience.
One thing that I didn’t much care for was the relationship between Katie and Tomohiro. It is literally one of those that starts out with Katie wondering about the mysterious Tomohiro, but he wants nothing to do with her. In pursuit of figuring out his secrets she follows him around until he finally gives in allows her to hang out with him. Then suddenly they are in love (in not so many words however). The whole stalking thing is just not attractive and in my opinion it doesn’t make Katie’s character look very good, which is a shame because otherwise I would think she was a smart and strong heroine being that she has to be in a totally new country and then dealing with the revelation of the ink. In fact, once they start to build the relationship it gets better, but the initial meetings between the two are not good.
Tomohiro, for his part, is a complicated hero. He’s lived with the knowledge of the Ink for his entire life and it hasn’t been easy. Although he wants more than anything to keep Katie safe, he doesn’t get too overly melodramatic with his need to protect her, which can cause a book to drag on and on with the back and forth.
I don’t think their case was helped by the fact that the timeline was skewed. The way Sun would write, oftentimes, the reader could go through an entire week in the space of a paragraph, thus making everything fly by too fast. The story became really good in the parts that Sun took the time to elaborate. At these parts I couldn’t put the book down. I wanted to know what was going to happen next.
Sun created a very interesting start to a new series with Ink. Although I had hoped she would take the ending a little further and surprise the readers even more by doing the unexpected, I’m still invested enough to see how the story continues.
Sexual content: Kissing