Ink (Paper Gods #1) by Amanda Sun

How did I get the book?
Received from Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: Fantasy

Additional: Depending on your definition of spoilers this review may contain some.


Katie Greene is lost in the wake of her mum’s death. Sent to Japan, she meets gorgeous but aloof artist Tomohiro, whose tough attitude intrigues and scares her. Then things get really strange. When they’re near each other, Tomohiro’s drawings start to come to life…
Soon the wrong people begin to ask questions, and Katie and Tomohiro must risk everything to protect the truth.

A slightly different review: I can’t really review INK without explaining some of my personal history. If you don’t want to read that, I’ve highlighted the book-review-parts so you can just read those but I really need to talk about Katie Greene to explain my thoughts and for that reason I have to talk about me.

Let me start by saying that when I first saw INK on Goodreads I thought all book-dreams had arrived. “Girl dealing with grief trying while to figure out how to function in another country, which by the way is Japan and how I adore this already and now you’re telling me there are drawings come to life! Why is book not in my hands now?!” That’s a pretty good summery of my reaction, INK was a Waiting on Wednesday post back in December 2012 and when I got approval on Netgalley I was jumping up and down with excitement. (Something went a bit weird with the formatting for the eGalley so MiraInk kindly sent me a papercopy – thank you.)

INK had a lot of pressure to be amazing before I even got my hands on it, sometimes books meet those expectations with INK it didn’t quite work out.

Reading INK felt like reading a Manga, which is awesome because I adore Manga’s and I could picture the art with each moment. Certain scenes are clear pictures in my head. While my knowledge is a little rusty I think all the descriptions, cultural references and the Japanese are correct and add that little something to the book.

The story takes a long time to really get going in my opinion. Additionally Tomohiro and Katie relationship goes round in circles a lot but really it’s Katie that I just couldn’t get to grips with.

Part of the reason that I thought I’d love this book so much is because I believed I’d have a bond with Katie. When I was 13 I moved from Germany to the UK, both my parents were dead and I ended up with extended family. Yes – I already spoke English (although not nearly enough judging by my first day at school) and yes – it’s not a completely different alphabet but let me tell you culturally Germany and England are not that similar.

Katie’s life is in turmoil but she has an aunt who cares (and it ridiculously trusting) plus friends at school. I don’t remember any big negative experiences for Katie, as far as I can tell everyone is pleasant enough. A few months after I started at my school I was referred to as “Hitler’s Girlfriend” on regular basis (I could certainly go into this at length but let’s not…)

The relationship with Tomohiro is very emotional. I wasn’t at the boy-stage when my world tipped on its head but my emotions were certainly all over the place so I can let it slide, to a certain extent. There is stuff that Tomohiro does, that for me, is just not ok. It doesn’t matter that he’s protecting her. For Katie to think she’s stupid for a very reasonable reaction (I’m talking about the love-hotel scene here) really annoyed me. Also Katie chastises herself a lot in this book but never seems to listen which is extra frustrating.

I really tried not to let my own experience colour Katie’s story. Everyone deals with things in their own way but the 911 moment was one too much.

Page 253 –

How can the number not be in service?
Then it dawned on me. The emergency number in Japan is not 911.

It’s a massive fail! If not Katie then her aunt should have made sure Katie knew.
I knew!
I knew it was 999 in this country before I moved here, because we came on holiday and my parents told me in case of emergency. I still know it’s 112 in Germany (btw 112 is pretty universal within Europe). You check these things before you go on holiday not to mention move to that country!
(FYI -Japan’s emergency number is 110 for the police)

I won’t lie I was pretty tempted to throw the book across the room at that point. It’s only one moment but it sums Katie up. I expected to care about her but instead Katie is one of the least likable characters I’ve come across. Katie’s doesn’t make sense to me which is why I found INK frustrating.

Awful things are happening, I get that – I SO get it – but it doesn’t mean your brain doesn’t work. Katie shows very little regard for her own well-being (in my opinion) but INK doesn’t read like she’s tempted to give up on life. And honestly I wouldn’t have had a problem with that perspective. I think I might have believed Katie more because I would have understood it.

The mythology for INK sounds really promising but I could have done with a few more details on that. I don’t know how much my feelings about Katie impacted on my opinion of the book.

For the magic behind the Paper Gods I think this might be worth a look.

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