Publication: June 2013 from Harlequin Teen
Source: BEA 2013
Rating: 4.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!
When orphan Katie Green goes to live in Japan with an aunt she barely knows, she must learn to embrace a foreign world that will open her eyes forever to the unimaginable. Katie can’t deny her attraction to the aloof Tomohiro, but there’s something unnerving about him. Ink reacts strangely around him. Drawings seem to come to life in dangerous ways.
Somehow Tomo is connected to the kami, ancient beings who once ruled Japan as gods, and being close to Katie is making his powers spiral dangerously out of control. Hunted by the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia, and an even darker underworld, Katie and Tomo must find a way to control the ink before their relationship unleashes a power that will shake the very foundations of Japan – and the entire world.
I had so much fun reading Amanda Sun’s debut novel Ink. Set in Japan, Ink follows Katie as she meets and falls for Yuu Tomohiro, finds out kami (gods) are real, and that she has more to do with everything than she thinks.
There are so many aspects of Ink that worked for me. I’m going to break it down and talk about a few reasons why. First, characters. I loved Katie. She’s very smart, determined and capable of looking after herself (with a bit of help sometimes, but everyone needs help sometimes). Katie is incredibly curious, a little awkward, sad (understandable, considering the reason she is living with her aunt in Japan is because her mother passed away) and even a little lonely. Throw in Tomohiro who is mysterious, protective, artistic and caring with a dash of angry loner boy thrown in and there is some awesome scenes and interactions between the two. The pacing of the book works very well with a mix of quieter moments and action packed, breath-catching ones. There are some secondary characters that throw quite a wrench in things, and really help flesh out the mystery and mythology of the story.
Which leads me into the love I have for the setting and mythology of Ink. I’ve always had a fascination with Japanese history and culture (it’s the history major in me, that I love old cultures, I swear) and I feel that Ink delivered a descriptive and engaging, though brief, glimpse into Japanese society. Amanda Sun herself lived in Japan for a time, so I felt comfortable trusting the picture she is showing us. Language is used wonderfully, and there is a glossary in the back for the Japanese words and terms that may be unfamiliar to the reader. The mythology that Amanda Sun created around the kami is very well developed and intricate – and though I’m still a little confused where some of the ink that is a sign of the kami comes from, I still quite enjoyed it!
Ink by Amanda Sun is a slow-burn romance that winds its way through Yakuza thugs, gods in human flesh, high school, mysterious pasts, secret societies and family. There is a wider threat to Tomo and Katie that comes because of Tomohiro’s connection to the kami, and this first book only touches the tip of it. The out of control powers and the interest from the Yakuza are only the beginning. I am very excited to see where the sequel takes Katie, Tomohiro and the others involved. Should be an interesting ride!
ARC received at BEA through an author signing at the Harlequin booth.