Ink

Ink - Amanda Sun (As reviewed on my blog, Paper Riot.)I mentioned in this post that I would love to read more YA books set in Asia and I'm always up for a unique fantasy, so naturally, Ink by Amanda Sun really intrigued me. Now, I have never been to Japan and I know next to nothing about the culture, but it was probably my favorite part of this book. The food and kendo and blooming cherry blossoms and occasional Japanese words - I took it all in eagerly. As someone who is not an expert by any means, I think that Amanda Sun did her research well. Like Katie, I felt like I was being thrown into a whole different world, though she got the hang of it sooner than I did. In fact, she got the hang of it almost impossibly fast. But more about that later.The thing with Ink is that, looking back at it, I had a lot of issues with it, but most of them didn't really bother me while reading. It was a book I enjoyed reading and eager to pick up again - that counts for something, right? Besides the culture, I really liked the fantasy element. The world of the Kami is refreshing and provides a lot of potential for further exploration. Do I completely like the way it was handled in the first installment of this series? No. I wish there had been more fantasy involved, because for now, it started to pick up at the very end of the book. And that's too bad. While I do think that there is a lot of room for improvement in the following installments, I felt like this story was over before it had really begun.Because where I was expecting more fantasy development earlier on, this story focused mostly on the romance. A romance that I simply wasn't invested in. Honestly, I don't blame Katie for being instantly intrigued by the school bad boy, Tomohiro. Hey, I'd be pretty interested to know the dude who made my drawings move. But it's too bad that Katie's fascination resulted in stalkerish behavior and, after that, a sudden romance that lacked development and build-up. You guys, I can take instalove as long as it's not too crazy. But when characters start saying that the whole world revolves around the other person and that they can't live without them and that they "lived in parallel worlds, somehow held together by the axis of each other" after barely getting to know each other - in all seriousness - then no. I can't handle that.But then again, I had more problems with main character Katie. While she was the main character and told this story, she is definitely not someone I will remember. This was pretty disappointing to me, because there was so much to work with - Katie has just lost her mom, and moved halfway around the world to live with her aunt and has to get used to a whole new culture and a school where she's the only foreigner. See? So much potential for struggle and development. Unfortunately, this was not what we got. Katie was pretty much fluent in Japanese from the beginning on, and she had little problems adapting to the Japanese culture. And did her mom's death do anything to her? I don't know, because all she could think about was Tomohiro. Honestly, I wish she'd have had more personality.Overall, Ink is a story with a beautiful setting and an interesting concept that I enjoyed despite its lack in personality, but ultimately, wasn't particularly memorable to me. I hope the sequel focuses more on the fantasy and less on the romance, because like I said, there is a lot of potential.