Series: Paper Gods #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on 25 June 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult
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Katie had to move to Japan after her mother's sudden death, instead of living with her grand-parents in Canada. Everything is new to her, and it is not exactl easy for her to fit in. At the same time, she notices some strange things, like drawings that move, a boy who seems to pretend he hates his girlfriend while he breaks up with her, and another with ties to the Yakuza. Not knowing what is real and what isn't, Katie struggles with her grief, her loneliness and what she at first thinks is a very vivid imagination playing tricks on her.
*I received a free ARC of Ink from Harlequin TEEN via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review.
Ink follows Katie’s first few months in Japan, where she arrives after her mother’s death to live with her aunt Diane. Language difficulties, cultural differences and adjusting to life without her parents are part of Katie’s daily life now. Making new friends, fitting in in school being the only blond and non-Asian student while trying her best to keep up with the Japanese signs and learning everything she needs while longing for her grand-parents in Canada and still being very sad and angry about her mom’s death is a big part of her as well.
There were a lot of things I enjoyed while reading Ink. One was that the story is set in Japan, and there are lots of phonetically written Japanese words appearing (of course, since I don’t speak Japanese, I have no idea if they are correct, but I enjoyed it). The culture difference is well described, and Katie’s struggles with everything as she is learning to act more like the Japanese is well done. From the language barrier to the customs, and calling people by their last name until she gets to know them better. I know it’s hard to live in a country where the language doesn’t make much sense in the beginning, and that must be a lot harder when there are signs instead of letters as well, because it impossible for Katie to even guess what things mean.
I also enjoyed the paranormal element, it’s completely different from any other I have ever read, Ink is about a boy who draws tings that move on the page – and sometimes off the page as well. It’s a dangerous hobby, and Tomhiro had to stop his calligraphy classes a few years ago because one of his drawing attacked his best friend and almost killed him. What Tomo can do has to do with the fact that he’s a kami, essentially he has some God or Goddess’ blood running in his veins, and this makes him very interesting in the eyes of the Japanese mafia, the Yukoza.
The writing can only be described as a little naive – I know that’s not a scientific way to say it, but that was the feeling I got while reading Ink. Katie is naive as well, but the whole set-up felt that way to me, even if the world-building is well done, and the descriptions of places Katie went to were showed nicely. It also seems like Katie falls for Tomo too quickly, especially because she saw the way he acted when he broke up with his former girlfriend, and her few friends warned her about him. I do get that the ink has something to do with their attraction towards each other, but I would have enjoyed the story more if they had known each other a little better. They did share some important things about their pasts, but it wasn’t really enough for me.
Reading such an original premise was truly great, though, and I know I will pick up the next book in the Paper Gods series when it comes out. If you are looking for a YA story where there is travel to a country far away, with a paranormal element that is original and a heroine who tries her best to fit in in her new country, you will enjoy Ink.
“No warning, then,” Tomohiro said. “Like mine.” Oh. I guess it was like his after all. Except his voice was steady as he spoke. Time healing all wounds and all that, like everyone kept telling me. He was where I’d be in seven years.
The first time I told Nana I was going to live in a mansion, she’d flipped with excitement. But Japanese mansions are just newer buildings divided into tiny apartments – no caviar or butlers included.
“Ew.” It popped out; I couldn’t help it. “Diane, it was just dinner and a bike ride. it wasn’t sex.” Diane’s face turned bright red and I wondered who this conversation was really the most awkward for.
He was like some kind of addict, completely lost to the thrill of it. he wasn’t thinking straight. Whatever control he’d talked about, it was slipping – he’d never acted like this before, at least not with me.