Review: Ink by Amanda Sun

Title: Ink
Series: Paper Gods #1
Author: Amanda Sun
Published: June 25th 2013
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Rating: 3/5
Source: NetGalley eARC provided for honest review

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.

***Mild Spoilers***

"All the wagtails were white and black, but this one looked papery, like he would crinkle in the breeze. His feathers were jagged, messy scrawls, and when he beat his wings to move to another branch, little swirls of shimmering dust trailed his flight.
Oh my god. He's…he's a sketch."

The story:
After Katie looses her mother she has to move to Japan to live with her Aunty. At first she feels lost and confused by the foreign language & cultural difference, but slowly as she learns the language and embraces the local food & customs she starts to make a new home for herself in Japan.

However after meeting the mysterious Tomohiro and seeing his drawings move across the page, she enters a world of mythology & danger. She discovers that he is a Kami (paper god) and can make his drawings come to life - but he struggles to control the ink drawings especially when Katie is around. Also, having such a powerful talent means people are after him, mostly to Yakuza a dangerous & violent Japanese gang. All this makes for one intense and exciting story!

The characters:
Tomorohiro was a little hard to like at first with his arrogant attitude and coldness towards Katie. However in the scenes with just the two of them we see the real Tomo, quieter and thoughtful. At times we get to see the young teenager that he his - he blushes when when Katie first calls him by his first name (using first names is considered very personal in Japan, where they usually address each other with last names.)

Katie is a typical teenage girl, often telling us how cute some the guy characters are, especially Tomohiro. But I still found her easy to like. Because the book is told from her POV we can understand what it's like for her to be the outsider in a new county, and as she becomes familiar with Japan, I felt that I did too.

The secondary characters were also great, mainly Katie's friends, Takahashi & Yuki. Yuki was really sweet & quickly befriended Katie when she was new. Yuki was quite funny at in the short scenes she's in - often making fun of Katie & her feelings for Tomohiro - such a typical best friend!

The romance:
The romance is not the focal point of this story - it's more about the Kami & the ink, however they do develop feelings for each other and get closer throughout the story. Their interactions were actually very realistic for their age. They both get shy & embarrassed when alone, not sure how each other feel - it was actually quite cute! Little romantic interactions were effectively sprinkled throughout the story, so the main action was never interrupted.

The Writing:
Sun made very clever use of Japanese language throughout the story - it enhanced the Japanese atmosphere and I felt like I was really in Japan. While she does include a glossary at the back of the book for all the words she's used, I personally didn't find it necessary to look them up. In the context of what's being said it was usually clear what the meanings were:

"Daijoubu?" Niichan asked.
"I'm not okay." I whispered.

I felt Katie's answer made it pretty obvious that "Daijoubu" means "Are You okay?"

The Artwork:
Yes that's right, this book has some illustrations & they just enhanced the story all the more. Ink drawings that Tomohiro sketches are scattered throughout the book and I swear I saw some of them move…seriously…I thought I was going crazy :)

There was one scene where Tomohiro does something quite horrible to Katie, and while at the time I was fully aware that he was doing it to push her away to ultimately protect her from his Kami powers, it still didn't sit well with me. I think there were perhaps other things, even nasty things he could have said or done to push her away - but this just seemed wrong. And it was interesting that the author wrote at the end of the book that this was a hard scene for her to write, because she knew it was out of character & very wrong of him to do. Yeah I know I'm being picky, sorry :)

After studying Japanese for 5 years at school (although sadly I remember very little of it now), I've always had an interest in Japan & would desperately love to got there one day. This book brought me very close - I could see the Sakura (cherry blossoms), smell the curry and feel the power of the Kami & ink! This was a fun and very creative story that fans of fantasy romances are sure to love!

Sexuality: mild-medium / some kissing, minor casual mentions of sex, ***spoiler***>>Tomohiro pressures Katie to sleep with him - an action intended to push Katie away to protect her***end spoiler***
Violence: medium / Yakuza (violent Japanese gang) threaten violence, guns, kendo fighting
Language: medium / several f*ck and sh*t
Drugs & alcohol: none


  1. Wow, this has got to be the first positive review I've read of this book. I'm not really on board with reading it, but it does sound kind of good (and I really want to see the drawings, especially if they're pretty).

    1. I can totally see why people think this is a bit cliche and I actually kind of agree. But I just loved the Japanese element to it all that it just worked for me :)


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