Ink (Paper Gods #1) by Amanda Sun

Ink“How do you win when you’re up against yourself?”

I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look.

Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of a girl lying on a bench.

A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion sickness.

And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine.

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.

Personal Thoughts:

Ink charts the life of an American girl Katie Green while she lives in Japan. When her mother died, she was force to transfer from United States to Japan and stay with her aunt, Dianne. Staying in Japan is not her choice, she’d rather lives with her grandparents in another state of America, but unfortunately with her grandfather’s condition it is not possible. Living in another country means a lot of adjustment – new place, new school, new friends and even new language. She tried her best to fit in or at least not to caught too much attention. But being the only American student in her class is not helping. Soon she met Tomohiro a mysterious kendo star who has its own issues. Tomohiro is no ordinary boy. He has a power to make his drawings came to life. Katie seen his drawings moves and since then she is determined to find out the mystery of Tomohiro and his moving drawings that seems has life of their own.

“Knowing where we’re headed in life isn’t easy for anyone. No one really knows what’s going to happen. We just sort of keep moving forward because we have to.”

After reading Shadow, an Ink prequel novella, I went back reading Ink with hopes of getting more information about the intriguing and unique Japanese culture, myths, and the real deal with Tomohiro – about his ability to draw things with life of their own, and the disturbing dreams he always have. Those are the things that I think are much intriguing part of the Paper Gods series. Now in Ink, we don’t have Tomohiro anymore to tell his sides of the story, which means no more direct view of the things I want to know. So I have to settle with Katie as she let us unfold the Japanese culture, mythology and Tomohiro’s secrets one step at a time.

“…there are those who have great talents in this world. And surely these talents are given for a purpose.”

In Katie’s eyes Tomohiro is one big mystery to be solve, something to unfold and understand. Though I understand Katie’s intrigue with the boy who’s drawings can move and possibly have lives of their own, I don’t share the same view with Katie. Having read some of Tomohiro’s point of view in Shadow, I already know parts of his ability which just makes me see Tomohiro as lonely, lost, and tortured, both by his power and his dreams. He is not a mystery to be solve but someone who needs to be understand.

“Power is an ugly thing,” he said. “Run from it while you can.”

Katie as the main character is not my type of heroine. I don’t like stalkers and people who can’t mind their own business which are just some of the things that describes Katie as a person. I understand her curiosity to know more Tomohiro after the ink incident, but Katie’s desire to figure him out is overly sudden in my opinion. She also do things that she herself said don’t want to do. One moment she is saying that she didn’t want to get too much attention then next thing she is making a spectacle of herself, making everyone notice her. I wish I can connect to Katie in some ways, but as hard as I tried I can’t see her as a real character. I hope Amanda Sun will develop Katie’s character better in the next book of this series.

However, Amanda Sun successfully created something new in Ink. It has a unique concept and offers a touch of different culture. Japanese mythology, legends, arts and calligraphy are things that makes Ink standout from the rest. They make Ink become highly imaginative as it offers unique fantasy world and intriguing plot.

Amanda Sun successfully use the Japanese culture, traditions, legends and myths to build a stunning fantasy world. Putting Katie and Tomohiro’s story in Japan not only makes Ink different but also the story rich, cultured and appealing.

As a debut novel Ink is good, and with its unique and imaginative tale it has a potential to be great. I just hope Amanda Sun will take advantage of the interesting mythology, fascinating Japanese culture, and intriguing fantasy world in the future books, as well develop Katie’s character more, because if done well, I believe the Paper Gods series will be not just more entertaining but also be a wonderful fantasy novel.

* This review is based on an eBook I received courtesy of the publisher, Harlequin Teen via NetGalley.

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