From the moment I spotted this gorgeous cover, read the blurb that promised far away places, a unique premise, and a dashing, “aloof” hero, I knew I had to read this book. I mean, can we just talk about (i.e. drool over) this cover for a moment? Major props. <high fives cover artist> It’s downright “practically perfect in every way” and possibly one of my favorite covers of the year. For serious.
But the real question: did the inside of Ink mirror that outer perfection?
For me? Not…. really.
In the end, I came away feeling oddly “Meh.” about Ink. I’ve been trying to sort out what exactly caused the disconnect between this book and I. Maybe Katie? She’s a little too eager, a little too nosy, a little too obvious, not to mention her slightly stalkerish and tendencies. Tomohiro’s this huge mystery she’s got to figure out and she more or less barrels her way into his life. But not necessarily in an endearing way, but more in a “leave the poor guy alone” kind of way. I mean, if she’s that tenacious she’s obviously no push over, and she does have some girl-power mojo goin’ on, which I like – if you push her, she pushes back. I guess the biggest thing that bothered me about Katie is that besides seeing the story from her vantage point, she feels somewhat… unimportant? More like an outside observer of the weirdness than an actual participant. I just really thought we’d get more information as to why she’s crucial to the larger plot… you know, besides being the narrator. Hey, there’s always book #2.
And then there was Tomo. Tomo was just too… emo? Emotionally immature? Yes, I’m aware we’re talking about teenagers who are dealing with supernatural, larger-than-life issues, and that in normal teenage situation a little floundering is normal and to be expected. But… dude is a hot mess. Understandably so, given Tomo’s situation, but the lengths to which he went to to “protect” the people he cared about borders on unforgivable cruelty. I mean, I get it. I get why he pushed people away; however, he ran so hot and cold that I kind of stopped caring after awhile, and I started wishing Katie would just let him go.
I know. That sounds rather heartless.
Which brings me to the romance. I never really felt the chemistry between Katie & Tomohiro. Katie was so obvious in her curiosity and feelings, but Tomo just always felt more amused with her than anything… and then there’s the aforementioned “running hot ‘n cold” issue. I just had a hard time getting into their story and believing his sincerity. (Girl, maybe he’s just not into you.) And actually, if there has to be a romantic storyline at all, I found myself wishing Katie would end up with this other guy who fluttered around the fringes. A guy who exuded promising romantic hero overtones, and whom I found infinitely more likable and interesting than Tomo. Again… there’s always book #2, right?
The story I found pretty interesting, though it moved a little slowly throughout, dealing pretty heavily with Katie’s difficulties in figuring out Japanese culture, dealing with the loss of her mother and stalking Tomo with the supernatural element taking more of a backseat at times. The mythology on which this story is based is fascinating, but a bit too vague. I wanted more. However, Sun’s depiction of Japan and Japanese culture is absolutely fascinating and gorgeously vivid. She writes about Japan with obvious firsthand knowledge. It’s incredibly detailed and made me want to jump on a plane and see it for myself.
Other things I liked were the villains of Sun’s story – they were truly scary and the build up and tension in their scenes is well done. Sun also does a fantastic job of backing her characters into seemingly inescapable corners, which I always love.
Overall. Despite the amazing setting and the intriguing premise, unfortunately the characters and the romance of Ink ultimately left me feeling pretty middle-of-the-road.
P.S. – Fun, helpful fact #1: There’s a Japanese to English “dictionary” of sorts included at the end of Ink. May save you the trouble of using Google Translator… which I did… a lot. <wink>
P.S.S. – Fun, helpful fact #2: There are illustrations inside the book! I know! Now, I’m not certain about this since I had an ebook review copy, but it looked like the illustrations in the printed version may work like a flip-book… which is actually pretty darn cool if that’s the case.