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Ink

Ink - Amanda Sun “The notebook exploded with pages as it trailed down, the papers catching in the air and filling the room like rain. They twirled and twisted as they came down, white edges framing thick lines of black ink and charcoal.”Ink is one of my most anticipated releases for 2013. Ever since I saw the cover and read the synopsis last year I was eagerly awaiting its release, and when I was approved for the eGalley I was so excited! The concept is so original and the idea of Japanese mythology, art and cherry blossoms really had me hooked as I’m quite interested in Japanese culture. Sadly, Ink wasn’t as good as I was hoping it to be. I was so looking forward to it. I really wanted to love it. I really wanted to give it 4 or even 5 hearts/stars. But alas I just couldn’t. Ink was still an overall enjoying read (hence 3 hearts) and I’ll definitely be buying the physical copy.My biggest issue was with the female protagonist, Katie Greene. She was one of the most annoying main characters I have ever read. I like a character who questions thing, but Katie was borderline stalking! She just wouldn’t stop following Tomohiro around, even when it nearly got her killed. And in such situations she was utterly useless, all she would do was scream and cower in fear. Also, holy crap the amount of times this girl cries. I really wanted to slap Katie and tell her to grow up – she’s 16 not 5 for Pete’s sake! I don’t want to use the word cry baby but I think she came close to it. As female MCs go, Katie was one of the most infuriating ever. I understood that she was really sad and lonely about moving to Japan, especially with the reasons behind it – but I also thought she was a bit ungrateful to her aunt Diane who was doing everything in her power to make her feel welcome. Katie spent a lot of time moping and not enough appreciating what was around her!“It was too awful. Tears rolled down my cheeks and I stood to leave.”Secondary characters wise, I thought they were very reminiscent of those in J-dramas. There’s the hyperactive best friend who’s all kawaii and then there’s the two love interests. Both of which are insanely good looking and of course one of them starts off as a friend and it’s obvious he likes her but she doesn’t see him that way even though he’s kind to her and rescues her more often than not. Can I just say I really like Jun?I generally liked Tomohiro. He’s the troubled teen who is extremely talented but because of some dark secret in his past he’s distanced himself from others and stopped doing what he loves. I could sort of understand his moodiness and brooding nature with the burden he had and I generally liked his protectiveness of Katie. It was really cute and I think Sun actually captured the Japanese teenage culture really well with the way the characters acted around their crushes. I could really see the difference in Tomo-kun’s demeanour as opposed to someone of Western culture when he tried to express his feelings.“Ore sa… Kimi no koto ga…” (I, you know… About you, I…)I really couldn’t handle the insta-love in Ink. The speed at which Katie’s feelings developed for Tomohiro (I think this is partly attributed to her stalker-like nature) was unbelievable and their relationship from there was just happening too fast. It was cute and sweet at times but I thought the romance should have been slowed down a bit. Insta-love is what really ruins the reading experience for me and I have to say that in this case, a lot of my hopes of the story died when I realised that Katie was falling for Tomohiro way too quickly. There was also a near co-dependence in the way the two couldn’t stay away from each other – more so Katie (again… stalker-ish nature).“I knew that I couldn’t live without him, even when he was infuriating.”“… and then the softness of his lips pressed against mine and the world caught fire, everything light and flame and burning.”The pace was a bit unsettling at times with the way Katie just rushed into things and believed everything instantly. I mean, if I started seeing my sketches moving, I would 1) think I’m hella tired 2) think I’ve been staring at the paper too long 3) have let my imagination run wild 4) have gone nuts. And yet Katie, despite questioning her sanity once, instantly thinks it’s Tomohiro that’s doing it. This left me really sceptical because nobody in their right mind should be jumping to the conclusion that moving sketches are the result of others… so of course I thought Katie wasn’t really in her right mind – JOKES. Maybe. I could see Sun trying to take a step back sometimes and have Katie question herself, but it wasn’t enough with the way the story was progressing.There were actually some really good things about Ink, I like to get the bad out of the way first and then concentrate on the good!The plot itself was extremely original and I did really enjoy reading about an entirely different world and culture. Sun described Japan so vibrantly I want to go back there again. Her incorporation of Japanese mythology was also really nicely done. I liked her take on the story of the gods and the way this was weaved into the present.And the world building, woah! Such gorgeous descriptions, everything was really picturesque and I could feel the oriental touch through her writing. The use of kendo, mentions of food and especially cherry blossoms, really made me feel like I was in Japan. Sun’s use of Japanese further enhanced this and I loved it – she never overused words, and when she used phrases it was never telling, but rather, showing what they meant which I really thought was an achievement!“The entire park was bathed in pink, thousands of petals floating on the breeze as if it were raining sakura… Cherry blossoms littered the gravel paths, the bright green grass and the sluggish moats that pulled the petals from the park.”I think I should also have a special mention to the formatting of the book. I’ve seen pictures of the physical copy and it’s gorgeous! Heck even my eARC was so pretty! There are elegant sketches throughout, chapter headings have intricate ink drop patterns, page corners have adorable little sketches and cherry blossom petals add a refreshing touch throughout the book.Despite some setbacks, Ink is a commendable debut by Amanda Sun. A unique story that blends modern Japan with myths of their Gods, amidst a brilliantly built world filled with delectable foods and falling cherry blossoms.“行ってらっしゃい” itterasshai (Go and return safely)