By Amanda Sun, published by Mira Ink.
Goodreads synopsis: On the heels of a family tragedy, Katie Greene must 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.
When Katie meets aloof but gorgeous Tomohiro, the star of the school’s kendo team, she is intrigued by him…and a little scared. His tough attitude seems meant to keep her at a distance, and when they’re near each other, strange things happen. Pens explode. Ink drips from nowhere. And unless Katie is seeing things, drawings come to life.
Somehow Tomo is connected to the Kami, powerful ancient beings who once ruled Japan-and as feelings develop between Katie and Tomo, things begin to spiral out of control. The wrong people are starting to ask questions, and if they discover the truth, no one will be safe.
My Review: I’d been so looking forward to this book, and had pretty high expectations. I was so happy to receive and read this, and the book was absolutely brilliant! The plot had a really original idea, and I liked the tie-in with Japanese culture. Amanda Sun has invented this believable type of Japanese Heavenly descendant, called a Kami, whose drawings can come to life. I really loved reading about it- the idea was really interesting. Right from the start I was totally sucked into this imaginative, fast-paced and fantastical world.
I also really enjoyed reading about Katie, an American girl, and her experiences living in Japan- a country totally out of her comfort zone with way different cultures and activities and rules. It was funny to see her accidentally forgetting to take of her shoes, etc., but was also great to see her settle in to this new country and lifestyle.
Katie was a really great protagonist because of the above sentence. I loved reading her journey. I felt a lot of empathy for her about her family situation, and was rooting for her throughout as she went through many complicated events. Her relationship with Tomohiro was predictable from the start, but really fun to see develop. Whilst Katie Greene was a pretty straight-forward, easy to understand character through the narrative, Tomohiro was much more complex and it was intriguing to figure him out. He was quite a mystery-man from the start, and even though Katie discovered his ancestry involving the Kami God, he was still a little secretive- but I liked that element of suspicion very much. He was described really well, and I loved his growing relationship with Katie and how he would give up anything for her towards the ending.
Overall, I enjoyed Ink so much, and couldn’t believe it was a debut novel, really. The snippets of the Japanese language thrown in were a tiny bit hard to grip at first, but I got the hang of it and really enjoyed the informative side of the Japanese culture, too. I could tell that the author has packed in her own experiences (as in the lifestyle and culture, not the drawings coming to life- obviously!), and I think that gave this book a really realistic touch. I also liked the gang references too, as they carried some very strong messages about getting involved with the wrong people. The writing was beautiful, and I also really loved the accompanying illustrations. Highly recommended for Urban Fantasy fans, and I can’t wait for a sequel!
I received Ink via the publisher on Netgalley, in exchange for a review.