Review of Ink by Amanda Sun

Ink Ink (Paper Gods #1)
By: Amanda Sun
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
An electronic copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Harlequin Teen!

My Rating:

The Summary (via Goodreads):
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 Take:
Note: I’m using a different structure for this review rather than breaking down aspects of the story and the characters separately.

I loved the idea behind Ink. The story taking place in Japan really drew me to requesting this title along with the beautiful cover and intrigue of a young adult novel venturing into Japanese mythology. Unfortunately, Ink and I were not as compatible as I would have liked. One downside to reading and reviewing a lot of titles is that eventually you get jaded by certain story lines, character traits and dynamics.

Ink felt very familiar to me, the unique setting of Japan was not enough to stand out to me. The writing was well done, aspects of the story were interesting but I could not look past the similarities to other YA books and overall predictability. You might be asking, what seemed so overused? Well, you have a misplaced main character overcoming tragedy and uncomfortable in her new environment. Enter mysterious guy who appears to be a jerk but has so many secrets and he just might not be that bad. Guy pushes girl away (for her own good) but she pushes back because she knows there is so much more to him than what meets the eye. Insta-love ensues.

As for the positives, I will say I was impressed with the choice of setting, details to the Japanese culture (the author obviously did her research) and the ink drawings sprinkled throughout the book were stunning.

Final Thoughts:
I think many people will really enjoy this book especially if they are new to the young adult genre and haven’t read many other takes on this (cliché) story line. The setting was fantastic but for someone like me, that has read a lot, the similarities and seemingly formulaic approach might take away from the overall enjoyment.

Ink (Paper Gods #1) by Amanda Sun will be available June 25, 2013

Review of Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

Born of IllusionBorn of Illusion
By: Teri Brown
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Balzer & Bray

An electronic copy was given in exchange for a honest review.

My Rating:

Summary (via Goodreads):
Anna Van Housen is thirteen the first time she breaks her mother out of jail. By sixteen she’s street smart and savvy, assisting her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, and easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums and mentalists in 1920’s New York City. Handcuffs and sleight of hand illusions have never been much of a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her true gifts secret from her opportunistic mother, who will stop at nothing to gain her ambition of becoming the most famous medium who ever lived. But when a strange, serious young man moves into the flat downstairs, introducing her to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, he threatens to reveal the secrets Anna has fought so hard to keep, forcing her to face the truth about her past. Could the stories her mother has told her really be true? Could she really be the illegitimate daughter of the greatest magician of all?

The Story:
Born of Illusion starts out with a very leisurely pace which allows the reader to soak in the time period and setting of the 1920’s New York. It was a comfortable book to delve into, though I didn’t feel like I couldn’t put it down because I had to know what was going to happen next.

Many pages focused on developing Anna’s character and delving into her relationship with her mother. The reader gets to experience how it might have been to live such an unusual lifestyle focusing on séances and magic shows. There was an ever present aura of mystery that I enjoyed and the question of never knowing exactly who to trust.

After the midway point there was the feeling that something big was just around the corner. When I got to the reveal I honestly was a tad disappointed, I wanted a bit more. It wasn’t bad; I just expected so much.

The Characters:
As stated above, Born of Illusion focuses on showing the reader aspects of Anna’s personality and experiencing her search to find out if the rumors are true about who her father is. Along with that mystery she also realized that her magical abilities are stronger than they ever have been, and they just might have to do with the new people in her life.

On her journey we meet some really interesting characters, Mr. Darby being my favorite side character. He is her downstairs neighbor and is hosting one of her love interests. Did you catch that? One of her love interests…yes, there is a love triangle but Brown does it well and it didn’t detract from the story for me.

I found Anna’s mother, Marguerite Van Housen, to be a very intriguing character though I didn’t exactly like her. I was happy to see Brown progressing the character’s relationships and giving them a realistic edge though the story consisted so heavily of illusion.

Final Thoughts:
Overall I enjoyed Born of Illusion, especially the time period and descriptions of magical stage shows. My biggest issue was with the ending, I felt it lacked creativity.