Monday, September 9, 2013

ARC Review: Ink by Amanda Sun @Amanda_Sun @HarlequinTeen

 photo 13423346_zps49f2a879.jpgBlurb from Goodreads:
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.


Title: Ink (Paper Gods #1)
Author: Amanda Sun
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: June 25, 2013




The Cover Contessa's Review:

I want to thank Harlequin Teen for providing me with an ARC of this book to read and give an honest review. Receiving this book for free has in no way influenced my opinion or review.

I will be honest and say that before I went to BEA and received a copy of this book at the Harlequin Teen Blogger breakfast, I had not heard of it. I had no idea what it was about. When Amanda Sun sat at our table and explained it to us, I just thought it sounded odd. However, I'm not one to pass up what seems like it might be totally intriguing, so I dove into this head first to see what it was about.

I will say that I am a slave for a gorgeous cover. And, yes, those covers often lead me to pick up a book and read it. So, while I had no idea if I would like the premise of this story, I was certainly pulled in by it's beautiful cover. It's so simple. I particularly love the cherry blossoms that are drawn on the cover. And the way the ink is dripping off the page is only a slight foretelling of what this story promises to give.

Katie is out of place in Japan. She has moved there after her mother's death to live with her aunt until her custody can be decided. And, while she seems to really not be happy with her placement there when we first meet her, she has definitely changed her mind by the end. I think my favorite thing about Katie is that she seems to be afraid of nothing. If she wants to find out more about something, she will go out of her way to do so. At the same time, the consequences of being like these can have detrimental if not life threatening effects. Yet, Katie seems to be willing to take these risks in an effort to find out who she really is and what she really wants. She is very relatable and I easily connected with her. She is also well thought out and developed and it's easy to see her growth throughout this book.
Tomohiro is the mysterious boy who draws Katie's attention. As much as he tells her to stay away from him, she just cannot seem to keep from being around him. He initially comes off as a jerk, a hot head who is totally taken with himself. He is inexplicably drawn to Katie and their connection is only heightened when they are near each other. We slowly come to find that Tomo has a soft side, and a secret. A secret to which Katie is linked. I truly loved his character. He was enchanting while still being snarky and totally brooding. It was a great mix that kept me intrigued about him throughout the entire book. One thing that really drew me to him was that he had this old soul quality to him, not your typical teenage angst ridden type of guy at all.Overall he is a very complex character that you can only really understand if you read the story.
The secondary characters are also quite awesome. Katie's friends Tanaka and Yuki care about her, despite her being a bit of an outcast as the American ex-pat who is still learning Japanese. They encourage her to make friends and be friends and come out and play.
And the bad guys, well, they are just that. The Japanese mafia seems like a scary bunch for sure. I don't know much about Japanese culture at all, aside from perhaps some understanding of food and a few cultural things my father taught me when he was traveling a lot to that country. So it was nice to see how Sun portrayed the bad.

The romance was not really a pull for me in this story. While it was there and I can see where many think it may have fallen short, I feel like the underlying connection that Katie and Tomo had was what really drew them to each other. And, while it seemed to progress fast, I don't think it was because there was insta-love. I think it was the draw of the ink that really had Katie and Tomo attaching themselves to each other.

Having spoken a bit with Amanda, I know that she spent some time in Japan growing up. So it was easy for me to understand how she incorporated the culture into the book. Something I really loved was that she never assumed the reader would know what she was talking about. So, while she might introduce a Japanese saying or some sort of object, she always came back to explain what it was in some way and you were never lost. And the way she introduces Japanese mythology into the story is great. I knew nothing of the Kami or any types of G-ds associated with Japan before I read this book, so it was a nice introduction. She seamlessly blends the history with the story so you are not spending the entire time wondering what is going on or only learning about the historical background. Her attention to detail is astounding. You can see the ink spilling off the pages of this book as you read it, very apropos for the story line!

And Sun's writing is very good. It really is easy to read and flows right off the page. She easily integrates sarcasm, humor, romance and action which keep the plot and story line moving at a quick pace. I was never once bored or felt as if I just needed to get through a page or two to get to something good. The story was always tumbling forward.

All in all I really enjoyed this book so much more than I thought I would. Because I have no Japanese background, I wan't sure that I would like what the book had to offer. But I loved learning about the Japanese mythology and culture through the eyes of an American girl. Being shown the country and it's distinct nuances through the eyes of someone who herself was learning the same. Sun creates an intriguing tale of the supernatural that will draw you in and capture you with it's multi-cultural elements and stunning descriptions.




 photo 4649677_zpsd918d838.jpg
I’m a YA author and proud Nerdfighter. I was born in Deep River, Canada, a very small town without traffic lights or buses, and where stranger safety is comprised of what to do if you see a bear—or skunk. I started reading fantasy novels at 4 and writing as soon as I could hold a pencil. Hopefully my work’s improved since then.

​In university I took English, Linguistics, and Asian History, before settling into Archaeology, because I loved learning about the cultures and stories of ancient people. Of course, I didn’t actually become an archaeologist—I have an intense fear of spiders. I prefer unearthing fascinating stories in the safety of my living room.

​The Paper Gods is inspired by my time living in Osaka and travelling throughout Japan. That and watching far too many J-Dramas. I currently live in Toronto with my husband and daughter. When I’m not writing, I’m devouring YA books, knitting nerdy things like Companion Cubes and Triforce mitts, and making elaborate cosplays for anime cons.

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