Sunday, June 16, 2013


Kami, Kendo, Yakuza...just the beginnings of INK by Amanda Sun- the first of The Paper Gods YA series.

Katie Greene is newly orphaned, and has moved across the world to Japan to live with her aunt.  She becomes attracted to the school's kendo superstar, Yuu Tomohiro.  However, when she's around him, drawings and doodles come to life (like, snails coming at her with snapping teeth from a homework page).  Turns out Tomo is connected to the kami, the ancient Shinto spirits. The Yakuza are after him, wanting to use his abilities.  As the two get closer, things get out of control.  The result is a power struggle that will stir the core of Japan, and the core of Yuu.


I really, really liked this book.  Having been on an obsessive (to my husband's chagrin) manga kick & K/J-Drama kick the past 8-or-so months, I kept comparing the story to those- and it totally lined up.  There's a Cherry Blossom viewing scene that could've been taken right out of Honey and Clover.  Plus, all of the awesome mythology!

Amanda Sun was great at bringing in cultural Japanese "stuff."  Honorifics, slippers, the Yakuza, school children cleaning the school, viewing the sakura when they bloom, after school activities, the crazy neon kanji on Japanese TV shows...and the food, oh the food!  Thanks manga for educating me on okonomiyaki, Anpanman [pictured in my Pictures page], etc- I didn't even have to check the glossary to know what they were eating.  It pretty much makes you hungry through the whole book.  And really makes you want to go eat your way through Japan.  Not in Godzilla fashion, though...

It is kind of your typical outcast girl meets bad boy story- however, bringing in the Japanese mythology and cultural dynamic gives it something extra.  Enough of a twist to make it interesting/different.

I love how Sun put the romanized Japanese in italics, and had a glossary in the back.  It was much more effective than not having ANY definitions, or inundating the page with parenthetical definitions.  The pages also have flip sketches at the bottoms that go along with themes in the book.  There are sketches and paintings included in the novel, bringing it even more to life.  The cover is just beautiful- I love the color scheme, and the dripping ink.  There's also a Q&A at the back, with the author and artists; book discussion questions are included.

[sidenote: You know when you're reading, and you come across something and are really excited because you already know what it's referencing?  I may have done that with the mention of dango.  I learned what this was after viewing the credits of the anime Clannad (and the song has been my ringtone for months).  So, for your viewing pleasure- The Happy Dango Family!]

This YA novel is great for those interested in Japanese culture, mythology and food; also for those who like supernatural romances and Manga.  I'm super-excited for the next installment!  

INK is published by Harlequin Teen.  ARC graciously provided by the Publisher.
Release Date: 06.25.2013

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