After the death of her mother, Katie moves half way across the world to live with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan. With only three weeks' worth of Japanese lessons and reeling from the tragedy, Katie struggles to fit in at school and in the new culture. One day, she overhears an older student called Tomohiro breaking up with his girlfriend, who responds by ripping pages from his sketchbook. As the papers fall to the floor, Katie sees something shocking - the ink drawings are moving. Obsessed by this, Katie becomes determined to find out what secret Tomohiro is hiding, whatever the cost. Soon she becomes caught up in a power struggle among the Kami, Japanese Gods, that could have deadly consequences.
I was drawn to Ink because I'm always on the look out for fantasy novels that use other cultures and their mythologies to underpin the plot. Ultimately, I found Ink to be underwhelming, but it wasn't without positive features. Sun studied Asian History at university and has spent time travelling through Japan, and her love of Japan came across on every page. Lots of little details were added to the plot, with the result that the reader gets a really good 'feel' for Japanese culture. Katie changes into school slippers in the morning, watches cherry blossom trees flower and eats authentic Japenese food. Japan was almost a character in the novel and I loved that. The mythology of the Kami also made a refreshing change as I have never come across them in a novel before.
Whilst Ink had positive elements, I felt like it was let down by the romance between Katie and Tomohiro, who was a stereotypical bad-boy with a hidden secret. Despite only just meeting him, Katie fell in love almost instantly and made a series of bad decisions all because she loved him. Even when he was horrible to her, when she found out what his friends were mixed up in and even when her being around him could actually hurt her, she couldn't leave him alone. I found it so frustrating because all the elements of a fantastic novel were here at the beginning of the book, only for the romance to take centre stage. I don't mind a bit of romance, but it needs to be a better one than this for me to enjoy it. I wanted more adventure, more mythology, more insight into the Kami, more ink drawings coming alive and less of Katie angst-ing over Tomohiro and how dangerous yet needy he was.
All in all, Ink had promising moments but was a bit of a let down overall.
Source: From the publisher via Netgalley.
Published: June 2013
Score: 2 out of 5