Blog Tour: Ink - Amanda Sun

Monday, June 24, 2013

“How do you fight yourself?”
Ink - Amanda Sun
Ink by Amanda Sun
Paperback, 377 pages
Expected publication: June 25th 2013 by Harlequin Teen

I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look.

Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of a girl lying on a bench.

A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion sickness.

And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine.

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.

My thoughts:
This is a story of self-discovery, power, bravery and romance. How to find a new life after a mother’s death and to live in the other part of the world? How to be beyond your curiosity and find something about yourself and another being? What if that person you fall for is a Kami (and not a good one)?
So, what happens next? That’s what the story wants you to desire: find out its mystery.

The title, summary and cover:
                Can I say how perfect it was as it ticked all those three with a 5-star mark? The title made me curious, the summary (even if it was long) had made me want to read it and the cover itself made me swoon.
The title had depicted the story itself and made it clear how it reflects the story. Though the summary was longer than expected, it makes me yearn for more about the book. And the cover, it sold me, more than anything; the watercolor portrait was just so light, free, elegant and just… wow (though the story is deeper than that).
Just the right things in check to create an impact for a first impression.

Before I go ranting about Ink:
Shadow - Amanda Sun
16 chapters (Prologue, Chapters 1-13, Epilogue)
Free on Wattpad: Shadow

Meet two teens whose worlds are about to change forever in this paranormal Young Adult novella, a prequel to Ink by debut author Amanda Sun…

Katie Greene’s worst nightmare comes true when her mother dies, and she’s devastated to learn that she will have to leave the only home she’s ever known. Desperate to find where she belongs, she must decide if she has what it takes to start a new life across the ocean. 

For Yuu Tomohiro, every day is a nightmare. He struggles to control his strange ability, and keeps everyone at a distance so they won’t get hurt—even his girlfriend, Myu. At night, a shadow haunts his dreams, and a mysterious woman torments him with omens of death and destruction. But these haunting premonitions are only the beginning…

Reading Shadow before Ink is a good choice, because you will have a gist of what will happen at Ink and that you had an insight of the past (and present) of both Katie and Tomohiro. To be honest, it was Shadow that made me want to read Ink soon enough. I had been coveting Ink since late last year and I still am beyond grateful to have read it early and to be part of the blog tour. But that aside, let me dwell a little about Shadow: it was only a novella but it had a lot of information about the characters already; and the great thing was that it was in double POV – the odd-numbered chapters were in Tomohiro’s POV and the even ones were for Katie. As a reader, I want to hear and see what a character is, as his or herself, than how others perceive him or her; so I had enjoyed reading both POVs. Shadow had created a very interesting flow that will make you crave what happens at Ink itself. It gives you a preview and a more thorough insight of what Tomohiro’s nightmares were, since it was not really said in Ink (and if you are interested about Tomo and Myu, well you’ll have it there); and about how Katie grieves and cannot believe for her loss, the death of her mother. Lastly, the last chapters of Shadow were something that must be read. I swear, I awaited that part: when Tomohiro saw Katie and then about his destiny. The woman that was telling him all along that he could only save himself is by killing himself or that even if he tried to fights himself he would still fail… the woman, I had somehow guessed it was her but Tomohiro confirming it made me wide-eyed, just blatantly shocked.

So let me rant about Ink this time:
There was this one-word that summarized Ink for me:

It was promising for a first book. Even though, I think it was set in a slow pace but then this is a first book; so it was still a good thing because it had unraveled some of the secrets already, what to expect in the sequel, and had created an established ground about how the story goes. The book had a natural way of Japanese feel and it was written in details that do not need much to imagine because it was like common sense flooding in for you. Aside from that, the sketches, that was hands-down, it was already in pages and it awed me… though, at first I thought the sketch was going to move, I really thought it will move and glare at me (just like how Katie experience), bless dear heart it did not happen (but it would be so cool, right?). And it had Japanese terms and phrases but do not worry there’s a glossary that will be very helpful as you read the story.

                The story was set in Katie’s POV, an American girl who will live permanently (or temporarily) in Japan, after her Mother’s death. With a language she barely had an idea of, how can she survive or just have a new life?
At first, I found Katie beyond infuriating and nosy for her own good but then that is why the story unfolds itself: revolving about her and who/what Tomohiro is. She was a character that was a mixture of irritating to likeable, as what I had said she was nosy but then likeable because she was a very determined person –no matter how nuisance of a person it portrayed her, this determination made her brave. She was that person that if she focuses her mind into it, she will do it and do it successfully. When she left America to live in Japan, it somehow showed her courage, to leave the things behind and start anew; she was still grieving for her rock, her mother, but going to another place with so miniscule of words you learned, it was a culture shock but she managed it. And to take Tomohiro a part of her life, it may look like borderline crazy since it was danger yelling at her. She did not mind who/what Tomo was nor what she had become, maybe being the ‘ink magnet’ was really her even before Tomo (her blood might had awaken by Tomo’s Kami blood); but then rather than run away, she stayed. She stayed to what she believed and she chose what she wants. It was her life and she will live it the way she wants. So Katie was like rebellious in a sense but she was just brave, determined, strong and trustworthy –she believed in Tomo more than anything; not that easily fooled.

Tomo-kun was a typical Japanese bad boy in my head so it was not that hard to picture him. But this mysterious guy had his secret well-kept, but will be divulged. He was a character that I had admired. If Katie was brave, I believed he was braver and stronger. How can you live against yourself? Slowly your other side is overpowering you but you still fight it because you do not want to succumb to it? That it was also the reason why you lost your loved ones and the others you need to put away? This character whose power was coveted by authoritative men but for him it was both a curse and a well-driven fear? I really cannot explain and say much about him because he was both intimidating as a character but also so sweet, how he fought himself and tried to protect the people from others and from him. Just… ineffable.

                Before I forget, let me point out about Kendo, the sport, it was a traditional sport that made the story felt like a clash of modern and ancient. It reflected power and focus, fear and determination; but mostly, gestures that made a characters: deadly, calculated or just careful. But also, the wrist-work, it managed to portray the Kami and the power and the connection in their wrist that was awesome. It felt like the story had multiple meanings or just a double entendre with things.

It was also remarkable how Amanda Sun had made it seemed normal to mix myths and Gods with human beings. How she had created this story and showcasing the Japanese culture in its wake. How I enjoyed it very much in a way that I had not expected, she had done an excellent job researching about how the Japanese people are— the tradition, the mention of yakuzas, the classrooms and the students.  I mean I have my fair share of Jdramas, Jpop (squeal at the mention of Arashi *fangirls*) and anime; this story made me think of some guys at Gokusen (go search and watch it). But more than anything, what enthralled me was how Amanda Sun and the book, Ink, had reflected the idea of having power is: greed and superiority, for the Yakuza and other Kami, respectively but how it is ironic to the one who had the power, in Tomohiro’s case, it was fear and death.

Finally, being the curious cat and have this fondness of questioning myself:
The girl: Shiori, I can’t help but feel very off towards her, I feel like there is something lurking about her and I am still figuring out who is the father of her baby. And why does Tomo-kun always protecting her (and it feels like it is just not about Moms being best friends). I so don’t want to dislike her but she’s something I can’t pinpoint, I don’t know if she’s good or bad.

But there was this thing that bugged me (and that made me crave for more information, aside from the Kami and what will happen to Tomohiro and Katie) was that in Shadow, when Katie was in the airplane and auditorium, the turbulence and the earthquake – was it because of her? It confounded me in some way because her pulse was reflected by nature. And I do not think it was coincidence. The Q&A and the preview of the sequel itself make me what to know what happens next. More yakuza and kami wandering after them and how will they fight their relationship? Because as complex and conflicting Tomohiro and Katie’s relationship is, they contradict yet attract each other, which in a way makes the story more interesting!

Can Tomohiro control his internal battle if Katie is the trigger to lose that control?
The woman in Tomohiro’s nightmare (in Shadow), will she really turn to be that one?
Will Tomohiro join a side? How long would he fight
What does Katie have? (Since normally these type of heroines have hidden power that will they unveil as they know themselves) And does her mother (or Diane since she stayed in Japan, permanently) know about the Kami?
Lastly, being a Kami to rise in power maybe a prophecy or destiny; but were Tomohiro’s nightmare a prophecy in itself?

To Tomohiro and Katie: Whatever they do, either to keep themselves believe that being away is protecting one another is as drastically risky as staying with each other— because no matter how they fight it, one is likely to be harmed.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Tour-wide Giveaway:

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Author Bio:
I’m a YA author and proud Nerdfighter. I was born in Deep River, Canada, a very small town without traffic lights or buses, and where stranger safety is comprised of what to do if you see a bear—or skunk. I started reading fantasy novels at 4 and writing as soon as I could hold a pencil. Hopefully my work’s improved since then.

In university I took English, Linguistics, and Asian History, before settling into Archaeology, because I loved learning about the cultures and stories of ancient people. Of course, I didn’t actually become an archaeologist—I have an intense fear of spiders. I prefer unearthing fascinating stories in the safety of my living room.

The Paper Gods is inspired by my time living in Osaka and travelling throughout Japan. That and watching far too many J-Dramas. I currently live in Toronto with
my husband and daughter. When I’m not writing, I’m devouring YA books, knitting nerdy things like Companion Cubes and Triforce mitts, and making elaborate cosplays for anime cons.

Official Site | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

Thank you, Sel for making me part of the blog tour and to Amanda Sun for the awesome copy.
-     Jassie

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