Saturday, 1 June 2013

Review of INK by Amanda Sun

Title: INK
Author: Amanda Sun
 Publication Date: June 25th 2013
Source: ARC copy provided by MIRAink for review purposes

"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."

*I Hereby Award This Book 5 Wings*

Firstly, let's give this book some cover love shall we? There's something striking about it's simplicity. It's even better to look upon in the flesh.
When I first found out that Harlequin Teen had ARC copies of this book, I was drawn to the difference between it and any other book I've read in the last couple of years. I requested a copy through the lovely Elise who gives me ARCs from MIRAink and she sent me one out.
I couldn't wait to read it, so as soon as I had finished my then current read, I picked it straight away and was catapulted into an entirely different world.

INK is the first book in The Paper Gods series and I hope that there will be many more to come. Why? Read on to find out...

Orphan Katie Greene has to move to Japan to live with her aunt Diane. Everything couldn't be more different for her now. Not only has she lost her parents, she's now living in a foreign country, speaking a language she can barely get to grips with and attending a school that is a culture shock to a gaijin like Katie. 
The only things she can be thankful for at the moment are her friends Yuki and Tanaka and her aunt Diane who all try to help her assimilate into her new environment. 

Katie has to embrace her new life and accept that though it isn't where she wanted to be, Japan is her home now. She wanted to live with her Nan and Gramps in Canada, but with her Gramps' cancer, it's too much for them to take custody of a teenager. 

There's no denying the growing attraction Katie feels towards the aloof Tomohiro Yuu, a boy with a bad reputation. He's not good for her, especially as he has just humiliated another girl by dumping her. So why is it Katie can't seem to get him out of her head? 

Some girls are drawn to good boys who get good grades and have good manners, the ones that tick all the right boxes in the eyes of their friends and family. Some girls are drawn to the elusive bad boys. The ones who attract trouble like a magnet, the ones who either don't care about their grades or school altogether. The latter are boys who attract our wild side. As a woman with a penchant for bad boys (on paper, not in real life) I can honestly say, it's boys like Tomohiro Yuu that make us feel wanton and want to live our lives with reckless abandon. 

So, Katie is drawn to Tomo, but there is something unnerving about him. She can't put her finger on exactly what, but she knows that though there seems to be something not quite right, she wants him all the more after  being subject to his bad boy charm. 

Tomo has a secret, something he would give his life to protect. But Katie has her mind set on uncovering the skeleton in Tomo's closet.

Katie tries to follow Tomo, but he is elusive as ever. So she asks her aunt Diane if she can get a bike. Diane tells her she'll think about it and in the meantime she can borrow hers.

Having Diane's bike means that it's easier for Katie to circumnavigate the bustling streets of Japan. It means it's easier for her to follow Tomo too. Quite obviously, she's a girl who, much like a dog with a bone, will not let go until she has the answers her nosy nature demands.

But is Katie ready to uncover Tomo's deepest secret? Is she ready to fall head first into the world of the unbelievable, the unimaginable... the world of the Kami...?

Tomo is connected to the Kami, ancient Japanese beings who once ruled Japan and were worshipped like Gods. Being in close quarters with Katie makes his abilities spiral out of control. He is wanted by the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia, and an even darker Underworld. But why? What gift could  this boy possibly  possess that would make these people covet him so?....

....The ability to make drawings come to life!

The connection Tomo has to the Kami means that whatever he draws come to life and spring forward from the pages of his notebook.

Katie discovers this upon following him to Toro Iseki, where she sees him beside a Yayoi hut with his notepad on his knees, the sakura falling around him on the ground.

For a while, his secret seems like fun. He can draw butterflies that come to life in front of her eyes. They don't take a literal form, more like they look like what they are, paper butterflies floating on the breeze. 
But whatever Tomo brings to life, he must also take precautions to strike through the drawings on the page - it wouldn't be good for Tomo, Katie or anyone close to them, if his powers got found out because he forgot to erase his paper creations from existence.

But with his friend Ishikawa having connections to the Yakuza, it might not be too long before he strongholds Tomo into doing something for them. Ishikawa has long suspected that there is something special about his friend and his suspicions are terrifyingly close to the truth. But even Ishikawa cannot predict the outcome of trying to mould Tomo into something the Yakuza can use. 

This story sees Katie go from a gaijin in a strange new country, living within a strange new culture - to a girl in love, a girl who would do anything to protect the boy she loves. She learns the new language, although she still finds the kanji symbols hard to read. She assmiliates into the culture, the society, pretty well. But it also sees her and Tomo's trials and tribulations on their journey to discovering more about the Kami - the Paper Gods, and what really lies in waiting for Tomo - what lies ahead for her in her own future. Is she the catalyst to his powers? What will the two of them do if they can't be together but also can't be apart?

Find out for yourself by picking up a copy of this amazing story by debut author Amanda Sun.

There were a lot of components that made this story great, I can't share them all with you, but I can tell you a few of my highlights.
I loved how Katie was a gaijin and found it hard to integrate into her new environment. She was outside of her comfort zone and that was what I found appealing. This world was new to me, but it was also new to her. Nothing was as she expected and that meant nothing was as I expected. I felt a connection to Katie that strengthened with time.
I loved how she fell for the bad boy. As I said, I have a bit of a penchant for bad boys and Tomo was no exception. He's handsome, he's sexy and has a devilish charm. He won over my heart from the moment I realised that not all was what it seemed. 
Another thing I loved was how Katie was so sure that under his wicked exterior, Tomo had a heart that was as fragile as anybody's. I was glad that she persued him even when he tried to shake her off. 
The best part of the story though? Katie's bravery and Tomohiro's perseverance to do the right thing, even though he struggles with the power of the Kami, he keeps fighting. He doesn't want to succumb to the power and become a monster. Together, the two of them make for an intense, thrilling story. 

I think Amanda Sun has created the debut novel I wish I had had the forethought to beat her to writing. I mean that as a complete and utter compliment. As an aspiring YA author myself, I give credit to anyone who gets up and has the courage to write. It takes a lot to actually go public with your story. There are some things you never feel ready for until you take the plunge. Amanda did just that, she went from writing her novel to actually getting a publishing contract with a great publishing house and now she is thrust into the spotlight and will be heralded as a superb debut author.
I, for one, cannot wait to find out what happens with the rest of the series. One thing I know for sure is that it won't be boring.

And so the wait for book two begins... I hope you will all be patient and wait with me.

Thank you for coming by to read my review. I hope you didn't read anything you thought of as a spoiler. As always, I try my hardest not to spoil the adventure that awaits you between the pages. 

Purchase your copy of INK today:

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