Author: Amanda Sun
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: 25th June 2013
Goodreads Summary: 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.
Ink by Amanda Sun Review
Ink is about Katie Greene, an American girl living in Japan with her aunt after the tragic death of her mother. Prior to moving to Japan she knew absolutely no Japanese and, with her blonde hair, she couldn’t stick out any more at school. She accidentally walks in on a messy break up between two of her classmates, one of them being Tomohiro, the school’s kendo champ and all round bad-ass and he’s not happy that she was there during this private moment. Katie catches a glimpse of some of the work in Tomohiro’s notebook and is convinced that she saw the drawing move.
At first she thinks she’s going crazy, but then her own doodles attempt to attack her in class and then her pen explodes and she looks up to see Tomohiro standing outside her classroom door. Determined to find out what Tomohiro’s secret is, Katie starts following Tomohiro but bites off more than she can chew and it turns out that she is an integral part to Tomohiro’s involvement in the mystery of the seemingly magic ink.
I haven’t read a lot of YA fiction that is set in places other than America and Britain so it was really refreshing to read something set in a world so far away with a culture so different. Right from the very beginning of Ink, you are sucked into the authentic Japanese setting as the author frequently uses Japanese words in her writing, especially in dialogue. There is a handy glossary at the back of the book which lists all the common phrases that are repeated throughout the book which are very helpful, though, I didn’t discover this until I’d finished reading the book so the glossary is more of an added bonus really.
Being half Chinese, half English, myself, I completely understand how Katie feels about living in a country where you’re singled out as the ‘foreigner’ and her narrative feels so real and is so believable. I liked that this book didn’t skip out on the fact that Katie obviously wasn’t completely integrated into Japanese society and people did treat her differently and this added to the general ‘authentic’ oriental feel that was running through the book.
The chemistry between the characters of Katie and Tomohiro is electric. There is no insta-love in Ink and you see a real relationship develop between the pair before anything really ‘romantic’ actually happens. Plus, as always with oriental stories, even a hug is a big deal so progress is slow but yourself slowly falling in love with these characters as the book progresses just as they fall in love with each other. Although there is romance in this novel, it doesn’t take over the story. The major plot line is about Tomohiro’s drawing abilities and the romance weaves in and out with this, running parallel to this main story line throughout.
Although Ink has a beautiful cover, the story within is actually quite dangerous. Amanda Sun has somehow managed to combine danger and beauty in this story with the two beautifully integrated. This means that there is also lots of action in this novel and I could see it appealing to YA boys as well as girls. This book definitely has darker themes running through it with criminal organizations and Gods but nothing is overly unrealistic as the ‘Kami’ (Gods) are based on real Japanese myths which is fascinating.
This book will no doubt be a fascinating read for any foreigners who are interested in Oriental culture. Ink has action, romance and suspense and I imagine it appealing to all teenage readers, though adults would probably enjoy it too. The author has weaved both history and culture into this fictional story in such a way that you believe that the world she has created is real. All in all, I absolutely loved Ink and would recommend it to all. A large portion of this book is dedicated to finding out about Tomohiro’s gift and this book has set itself up nicely for several sequel novels which I look forward to reading.