Monday, June 17, 2013

Ink (Paper Gods #1) by Amanda Sun Review:


Goodreads Book Blurb:
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.

Genre - YA Fantasy/Romance

Ink (Paper Gods #1) is a YA Fantasy/Romance written by Amanda Sun. I received this eARC in exchange for an honest review by Harlequin Teen through NetGalley.

3.5 Bright, Blossoming Stars!
Unique, Sweet and Fun to Read!

The Rundown:
Katie Green is the only Amerika-jin at her new school. Shipped from America to Japan to live with her aunt after her mother passes away, Katie stands out as she slowly learns the customs and language of her new country and home. Befriended by Yuki and Tanaka, she’s trying to settle into a normal routine in this foreign world and keep her head down as much as the only blond haired girl in the school possibly can.

Against the advice of Yuki, Katie enters the school to change out her slippers for her shoes while couple Tomohiro and Myu are in the middle of a heated argument. Sneaking in, trying to go unnoticed, Katie becomes observer to the hostile break up which leaves Myu in tears and Tomohiro smirking. But Katie catches a glimpse of the regret in Tomohiro's eyes that doesn’t coincide with his bad boy image. In a desperate fit of anger, Myu tosses Tomohiro’s sketch book on the floor, causing one of the sketches to land at Katies feet. At first the drawing is captivating, depicting a lone pregnant girl, but suddenly the head and vacant inky eyes turn towards Katie, staring at her from the paper. Confused and scared, Katie doesn’t have time to react before Tomohiro snatches the drawing and warns Katie away. Determined to know why the drawing moved and what Tomohiro is hiding, Katie sets out on a dangerous, fact-finding mission only to discover secrets that will completely change her world. Inexplicably drawn to one another, Katie and Tomohiro have trouble knocking at their door as two different factions set out to try and use Tomohiro’s gift for their own nefarious purposes and Katie and Tomohiro must figure out what it all means before its too late.

The Review:
I’ve been a lover of anime and manga for years and I could easily imagine Tomohiro and Katie being one of the fascinating characters I’ve watched in one of my favorite animated shows. But you don't have to be an anime enthusiast or an expert in Japanese culture to enjoy this book. Amanda Sun pens a beautifully inspired story steeped in embellished scenery and Japanese culture, captivating the reader and pulling them into this magical journey. From things such as the annual fall of the sakura tree or cherry blossom petals with the towns people sitting in the park and drinking in the sights, to the foods, tea and names and places of things, the reader is lettered in language, culture and traditions. And though most of the time when Katie phrases something specific, there was an accompanying English translation immediately following, but for the rare instance when there's wasn't, there is a dictionary at the end of the book which I loved going through.

I also enjoyed the creative world and mythology building as the author takes us on a unique journey through traditions, mythos, friendships and romance.

I am conflicted with Katie’s character. I both liked and disliked her. When we first meet her, she’s mourning the loss of her mother and a familiar life she’s had to leave behind. I felt sympathy for her as she struggled with her new surroundings and the possibility she would never return to the states. However, her focus quickly changes as she witnesses Tomohiro’s breakup and subsequent moving pictures. She then becomes a girl obsessed. She literally stalks Tomohiro from one place to another, watching him, almost taunting him all the while blaming him for taunting her. I realize she was only sixteen, but she seemed so immature. And then, she basically needs a hand-holding once she’s told the truth, then she loves him, then she’s scared of him, then she can’t live without him. Katie and Tomohiro’s feelings seemed too rushed especially considering how Tomohiro and Katie were introduced, with rumors of him getting another girl pregnant and him being associated with gangs. She kept saying she needed to be cautious but she never exhibited that caution. She does grow and change by the end of the story, so for that, I have to give her credit, even if its bittersweet.

But I did like their romance. Once I accepted them as a couple, I really enjoyed Katie and Tomohiro’s time together and the adventure they embarked on.

Tomohiro was the classic bad-boy with a golden heart. I was fascinated by his gift and what he could do. And I loved the fact that his feelings were the propellant for his gift. However, his character was a bit clich├ęd in that he tries to sacrifice his feelings by pushing Katie away “for her own good”, his method a bit harsh. I also wanted more details on his nightmares and his gift. We get bits and pieces and perhaps we’ll get more in the second book, but I wanted more understanding about the origin and the ability itself. I do see great things for him if he can master his gift and that should be fun!

I wish we had gotten more of Yuki and Tanaka, the best friends, with a possible love connection between the two. They were supportive and friendly but they were just kind of left hanging out in left field while Katie and Tomohiro had their adventures.

The Wrap Up:
I enjoyed this read and I really enjoyed the unique take on the mythology. Though I think the characters could have used a bit more development and the romance needed to be fine tuned, I'm excited by this author and am looking forward to checking out more of her work, especially when the second book in this series is released. Considering the slight cliffy we left off with, I'm interested to see what's in store for Tomohiro, Katie and friends!


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