Book Review: Ink by Amanda Sun

Posted June 27, 2013 by Kara in book review, Kara / 14 Comments

Book Review: Ink by Amanda SunInk by Amanda Sun
Series: Paper Gods #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on June 5th, 2013
Genres: paranormal, young adult
Pages: 369
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
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three-stars

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.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Ink hasn’t exactly been getting great reviews. Most of my blogger friends have completely disliked it, and so I expected I would too since I usually agree with the masses. But honestly, I think a lot of the criticism it’s getting is kind of unwarranted. Yeah, it’s not a perfect book, and yeah, there are some things I didn’t love, and yeah, parts of it feel overwritten, but overall I did enjoy it for what it was.


To me, Ink had an incredibly original storyline, and that’s where the book shone the most. Not in the characters (those needed work), not in the writing (cuz man some of that was awkward and choppy), but the story. The bleeding ink. The way it came to life, and the creepiness of the drawings and the way the plot unfolded. That’s what was awesome. And the atmosphere. The settings were incredibly well-written and the imagery was spot on. The Japanese settings really came to life, and the book was incredibly well-researched and it shows. The author lived in Japan for a while ( I was fortunate enough to meet her at BEA) and talked a bit about her writing process. Point is, it really FEELS Japanese. 

I had a hard time warming up to the characters though, and that’s why I say they needed work, as they weren’t particularly likable. Towards the end I did like Katie a bit more. But through most of the book she was weak and let things happen to her as opposed to making things happen. I did like how she talked back to Tomohiro when he was being a jerk, which brings me to my next issue. Tomohiro. Like ugh. I didn’t get the interest or why this character was written this way. Not the worst love interest in YA by any means, but the guy was completely a dick. He had his reasons, of course, but I wasn’t entirely convinced. And…I didn’t particularly believe in the chemistry between him and Katie. I wanted her with the other guy. Not that there is a love triangle, because there isn’t–at least not at this point. But there was another male character that did have an interest in Katie. I liked him better. 

Then there were the opinions of the characters in the book I did not actually agree with. Which I can’t really talk about due to spoilers, but let’s just say that the way the plot unraveled towards the end disappointed me a little. Katie and Tomohiro run away from people trying to help them escape from another group of people that are absolutely evil, and the choices the MC made do not agree with my ethics. My fictional ethics, I guess. But something about the way it happened did not sit right with me and so I was a little less impressed with the book at that point. And considering this was pretty close to the end, it did affect the way I felt about the book overall. Up until that point, Ink was pretty close to a 4 star rating, but the way it wrapped up left me feeling underwhelmed. 

But. I did like it enough to continue, because the uniqueness of the story, the setting, and the possibility for a really exciting book two have me anxious to push on. There is some great Japanese culture in this series, and the opportunity for me to learn as I read is high which is always an exciting prospect for me. I just hope the technical issues in the writing are ironed out as some of the dialogue was pretty choppy and it definitely could have used some more transitions and better flow. Some of the syntax was odd. I would not have structured some of the sentences the way the author did, and her word choices had me raising a couple of eyebrows in confusion. But overall, a pretty solid effort and debut from Amanda Sun.

14 responses to “Book Review: Ink by Amanda Sun

  1. Glad you managed to like this more than I did 🙂 I agree that the setting, atmosphere, and concept were the best parts of the book, but the characters just bothered me way too much 🙁 I’m glad you’ll continue with the series though, because I am curious about whether or not it gets better 🙂

  2. I agree with regards to the dialogue and prose being choppy sometimes. I definitely it could have used more build-up, know what I mean? Just finished and reviews this book and gave it 2 stars with a looong rant haha, but I’m glad you liked it more than I did. I don’t think I’ll read the rest of the series, but I’ll definitely read other books by Amanda Sun!!

    Faye @ The Social Potato

  3. I’m glad you ended up enjoying this, Kara. I’m one of the many who couldn’t manage to finish the book. Admittedly, I only read about 5% of it though. I read up to the end of the scene where the couple is breaking up. It really bothered me that my first introduction to the main character was her telling me all about what other people were doing. Then she didn’t really get weirded out by the drawing that came to life. I mean, if I saw that, I’d flip out. And she just acted like it was practically normal.

    Anyway, now that I let my rant get away from me…

    I know that you love books about Asian culture, so I was really hoping this would work out for you. Because I don’t have that kind of passion for the culture, I wasn’t able to get past my problems with it. I do love the originality of the story though, and I look forward to later books by Amanda Sun, after she’s had the ability to hone her craft a little bit more.

    • Ahhh yeah. She’s an observer in that scene but not for much more of it. But yes, there were some weird character actions in this one and some of it just didn’t work for me. I understand why a lot of people didn’t really like this one. I think if I had been in a different frame of mind, that could have easily been me.

      I think book two might be better. I intend to try it, at least.

  4. Amy

    I was really excited for this one, but with so many mixed reviews and shortage on time, I am going to pass on it. It’s a shame that this one didn’t completely work for you, but I’m glad you did like certain aspects of it enough to maybe continue the series. Great review hon!

  5. This is actually the highest rating I’ve seen so far for this one, Kara. The characters sound like a big hot mess – like maybe if the author had taken more time with them, the whole book would have been a bit better for you. Meh! I think I’m taking this one off my TBR for now, but glad it wasn’t a total loss for you girl!

    • Really? I saw a couple of three stars from my friends, and another on Goodreads who gave it a 5. I guess it just depends on the person. I think book two might be better. I am hoping.

  6. I actually liked the romance too because it feels as Japanese as the story does. It is a bit insta-love-y and Tomo does act like a jerk at many points, but the blushing, the first name significance–I loved those little treats! I agree with you about the characters (particularly the side characters though–besides Katie and Tomo etc. etc.) and the bleeding ink–definitely the bleeding ink. The world-building and culture in general. Yessss. It’s a good thing that you and I both could enjoy some aspects of the novel even without enjoying it fully.

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