Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ink by Amanda Sun

Ink by Amanda Sun

Release Date:
June 25, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: BEA


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. (courtesy of Goodreads.)


If you have the slightest interest in Japanese culture, you must read Ink. If you don't have any particular interest in Japan, but like reading a book that evokes a strong sense of place, you must read InkInk is a solid albeit formulaic paranormal romance with an outstanding setting.

Katie is stuck in Japan against her will after her mother's death. Lucky for her, it's only supposed to be temporary until her grandfather's health improves. Katie is trying to bide out her time, but wouldn't you know, romance and adventure strike.

It took me awhile to warm up to Katie. She is slow to adapt to Japan, to try new foods, or culture. Slow from my perspective at least. I'd be diving in head first to try everything - but I'm older, already have exposure to Japanese culture, and haven't just lost a parent. So in the end, Katie's blase attitude is understandable and realistic.

Katie's relationship with Tomohiro is nothing new. Initial antagonism gives way to astonishment that there's a paranormal link which brings out more antagonism which pretty quickly turns into undying love. It's a formula that works well. There's nothing objectionable, but that's not why I enjoyed the novel.

Amanda came up with a fabulous paranormal element. Traditional Japanese gods. Drawings coming to life in powerful, bloody, violent ways. It reminded me very vaguely of the manga series Death Note. I mentioned that to Amanda when I was at BEA and she said it was an inspiration for the series. The kami and the art element are like nothing you've read before and I was turning the pages to see how the mythological world was going to develop.

The plot itself is a thrilling battle of art and judo. It feels very Japanese. The yakuza, the Japanese mafia, are another element. All in all, I thought the plot veered into melodrama and stretched the bounds of realism (well, leaving aside the gods and art coming to life part) too far for my taste. But it was still fun.

What Amanda did wonderfully was capture Japan. I've never lived in Japan, but my husband has lived there. I've visited and my husband has steeped himself in Japanese culture for years. As far as I can tell, Ink captures the atmosphere of Japan perfectly. The food, school, mannerisms. Unique holidays like the annual hana-mi (when everyone has picnics under the cherry blossom trees). The subtle and not-so-subtle ways that Japanese teenagers interact differently than western teens. It's like traveling to another world. I've only seen Japan depicted in YA a few times, and Ink is by far the best depiction. I loved it.

I definitely recommend Ink for anyone who loves exploring different parts of the world. While it stays close to the standard paranormal romance trope plot wise, the paranormal element is unique and the setting is outstanding (I can't emphasize that part enough).

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Here's How to Buy the Book! 


  1. I actually have this on my kindle and I was going to start it. I've been to Japan once, but it was very brief and not nearly long enough. I always love being immersed in other places!

    Love your review! I'm going to get on it!

    Liza @ Book Crook Liza

  2. I really enjoyed how Sun used Japan as a setting. I think it was the strongest part of the book. While I found parts of the book predictable.I think you said it best by saying it was a formula that works well.

  3. Sounds interesting- Thanks for posting.
    My Blog

  4. This has to be one of the more +ve reviews I've seen for this book, I know everyone loved the cover but I saw some v.negative reviews. I might give this a go now, Alison!

  5. Japan really came alive in this book for me, which is, in large part, probably why I enjoyed this book so much. I found it well written and thoroughly researched, which really appealed to me. I'm glad to see that you enjoyed it overall, Alison! Great review :)

  6. This one that I haven't decided whether I would enjoy or not. I think it sounds like pretty good. Great review. I'll have to check my library for it. :)

  7. I've heard she does an outstanding job with the Japanese setting, and that definitely has me wanting to give this one a try despite the fact that the romance doesn't necessarily bring anything new to the table. Seems like she makes up for that a bit with the paranormal element though, so I'm glad you enjoyed this one overall Alison!

  8. My mom recently went to Japan and brought back lots of cool stuff and stories to tell. I really want to read this now.

  9. I haven't read this one yet (some meh reviews moved it down my TBR pile) but I still want to read it!! I'm truly interested in how she handles the setting -- I've heard good things about that so yay.

  10. I've been wanting to read this, but her slowness to accept things might bother me a bit. I would be jumping head first into everything wanting to try it all! But if she's just lost someone I can see how things would be different. I'm really excited about the setting!

  11. I really loved the supernatural element here, yet there was something in the characters that hold me back from loving it completely! The setting and the paper god idea truly is outstanding)

  12. Uh oh...I read Small's review of Ink and she did NOT like it. I mean--she DNF'd it, siting your main reason you think people should read Ink. I'm so confused...

  13. I fell in love with this book and one of the main reasons was the setting, the author did a great job of describing the atmosphere and about fitting in a completely different culture(:

  14. I actually found Ink very underwhelming. I didn't think the story was good, I found the characters to be boring and not well developed. I did like the idea, though, of Kami. I just don't think Sun carried it out well. I'm glad that you found it pleasant though.

  15. I loved the Japanese setting for this book but was so disappointed with the characters-how dull can you get???

  16. I spent a week in Japan visiting my brother when he was studying abroad. I loved my time there, and for that reason, this book definitely has me intrigued.


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