(The Paper Gods #1)
by Amanda Sun
by Amanda Sun
Paperback: 384 Pages
Publication: June 25, 2013 by HarlequinTEEN
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 was drawn to this novel because of the Japanese setting. I love East Asian culture, and I have some knowledge of Japanese culture through manga and anime. It was refreshing to get some Japanese culture in a novel, especially since the author had real-life experiences as a foreign in Japan to drawn upon. Plot-wise, however, this felt pretty much like another paranormal romance. It's not necessarily a bad thing; those who love paranormal romances will love this book.
◆ An ARC was provided by HarlequinTEEN for review ◆
The strong point of Ink is its unique setting. Readers looking to experience Japanese culture from a foreigner's perspective will live a realistic experience with Katie (outside of the paranormal happenings). For the most part, the story does a great job of explaining the differences between American and Japanese culture. My primary concern here is only that the meaning of much of the vocabulary could have been worked into the context instead of defining them in a glossary at the back of the book. It didn't help that I read it on my Kindle, so I didn't even know there was a glossary at the back until I'd finished the story. Those who purchase a hardcopy will be able to flip to the glossary as needed.
Katie is a strong-minded individual--and a bit impulsive. The things she does sometimes reminds me of a character from a manga, such as her declaration from the tree. At the same time, there's a layer of vulnerability to her from her mom's recent death. It's when she's at home thinking about her mom that it really kicks in what she's dealing with. Outside, she's pretty gutsy. I didn't like Tomohiro so much. Sure, he's a decent guy despite all that he's wrapped up in; at the same time, it feels as though he's giving up on everything half the time. I think now he'll give life more of a chance, but it remains for book two to show us. Still, for all the time that Katie spends with him, I don't feel much of a connection with him. I like Jun more, though we don't learn much about him until the end (and, given that I haven't had much time to absorb this new information, I may change my mind about him).
I would have also liked to see more of Katie's life outside of Tomohiro. From her first meeting with him, she takes a strong interest in his affairs, and though she knows that he isn't someone she ought to hang around, she still forces her way into his life. From the way the story focuses on their relationship, I thought that she spent all her time with him, though it's brought up that she attends English Club with Tanaka and Tea Ceremony with Yuki. I like these two friends of hers, and I wish that they showed up more in the story.
On the whole, I enjoyed this story. While I wish that the plot was focused less on Katie and Tomohiro's relationship and more on other plot developments, such as the mythology surrounding the kamis, the yakuza's interest in kamis, and life at school outside of Tomohiro, the mystery of the ink fascinated me, and it looks like there will be more action in the future. I'm looking forward to reading book two.
Come back tomorrow for an interview with author Amanda Sun!