Following the death of her mother, Katie Greene moves to Japan to live with her aunt. Trying to make friends in a new school is hard enough without struggling to learn a new language. And then she overhears a fight between bad boy Tomohiro and his girlfriend. Knowing it’s none of her business, she tries to hide but when he drops his notebook, Katie can’t believe her eyes. His drawings are moving. Has the stress of the move driven her completely crazy?

I loved the idea behind Ink; it’s a bit like a grown up version of Penny Crayon. Inspired by kami, a word which is used both for gods and paper, Amanda Sun weaves the two together. Tomohiro is part of a lineage that has power over ink. His drawings comes alive and Katie seems to have an effect on his control. It’s also illustrated with drawings from Tomo’s notebook; there are even a couple of flick book animations at the bottom of the page.

The addition of Japanese culture makes a refreshing change from some many young adult books set in America or the UK. Having Katie as a gaijin (foreigner) gives her the excuse to explain certain words and customs. If you’re familiar with Japan, you may find it a bit too over-explanatory but for the audience, it’s probably at the right level. There are trips to view the cherry blossoms and their extra-curricular activities include kendo, calligraphy and karaoke.

What let the book down for me was the central relationship. I can completely understand fancying the bad boy, and she even seems to acknowledge that she shouldn’t really be interested. But they seem overly familiar far too soon. It isn’t even explained away with instalove; her internal monologue clearly knows he’s a stranger but they have these gushy moments that make them seem like they’re known each other forever. The plot with the Yakuza was on the weak side although it did get more exciting when the volume was ramped up on their activities.

It’s an easy read with some good ideas, so definitely worth a read but I felt it just needed a bit more work to pull the plot together.

Ink is published by MIRA Ink and will be available in the UK on 5th July 2013 in paperback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review. There is also a short prequel available now in ebook.

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Also reviewed @ Birth of a New Witch | Uncorked Thoughts

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.