Author: Amanda Sun
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
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 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, but now she may not make it out of the country alive.
Ink is an intriguing story rich with modern day Japanese culture, Japanese mythology, and magic. In a country with such rich history there's bound to be something lurking around, something searching for power. A rather serious tone travels through the book because there's so much at stake for Katie. Like survival.
It's very much a stranger in a strange land sort of book, Katie with her American customs and American way of thinking. So much research has been done by the author on Japanese geography, customs, and myths. And the English/Japanese language barrier was addressed, which was good. It was nice to see the author not sweep it off to the side and avoid it.
I find that Katie tries to be strong and ends up with a façade over her face. She somewhat refuses to accept that, for the moment, she has to live in a foreign country with a relative she barely knows and speak a language she barely understands. In a culture so different from the one she grew up in, she's lost and puts up a wall, not complaining but not accepting. In the beginning, And so she waits for the day she can go back to North America, until danger arises and curiosity kicks in.
There's an instant something between Katie and Tomohiro. I'm wary of saying it was the often hated insta-love, I think it's more instant anger or hatred or confusion. And then Katie sticks her nose in because she wants to know why what happened happened. She wants to know why he's a walking contradiction, why he's angry and closed-off but also quiet and friendly. Why his drawings come alive. Yes, following Tomohiro around makes her a creepy stalker, and no, I wouldn't suggest doing this in real life, but Katie's recklessly stubborn and she wants to keep those she's managed to make friends with safe. And so, with her big nose, she shoves her way in like a foolish idiot and gets caught up in a huge mess of trouble.
Part of what I found compelling, beyond the setting, is the darkness and the magic in the ink. The fantasy aspect, the dark magic in the ink drawings, it all reaches back into Japanese myth, into lore and legend, and hints at the true power of the gods. In ways it's a subtle sort of magic, elusive at times, but in other ways it's clearly there, extremely dangerous and powerful. But Katie's involvement, Katie's connection, must be addressed. Why is a Caucasian girl from New York somehow involved?
Certain things are very clear in this book. The gods are real, the kami have power, the ink is dangerous, and it wants them both. Everyone is at risk. Now that she's part of it, Katie has to figure out what to do next.
(I received an advance copy from Harlequin Teen.)