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After her mother’s death, 16-year-old Katie Greene has to move to her aunt – who happens to live in Japan. Everything there seems to be too much for her, especially the language which she does not get along with very well. When she meets Yuu Tomohiro, he changes her whole life again: a drawing he had made and she found actually moves. She did not imagine anything as it happens again later. What is all this about? Who is Tomohiro really? Hopefully, he is not actually that bad guy that everybody sees in him, who hurts his best friend badly and cheats on his girlfriend while impregnating the other girl … because slowly but surely Katie is falling in love with him.
You think it is strange that someone falls in love with a guy who seems to be a complete idiot? I agree with you, then, but it is still what happens in “Ink”. Katie instantly realizes that there is more to Tomohiro because she sees his true emotions in his eyes when he drops his guard for a moment. So, she simply cannot not stalk him – initially she planned to call him on his behaviour, but somehow got lost in the translation – and eventually she falls in love. How could it be any different? After all, Tomohiro is not a complete idiot; at least that is what the author wants us to believe.
As you can see, I am not a great fan of the book. It does have its good aspects, only they are not exactly numerous. There is the fact the story is set in Japan which is definitely something different and has the advantage of Japanese words leaking into the text. If you love the sound of Japanese as much as I do, you will be delighted and if you did not have much contact with the language in the past, you should not worry: there is a glossary at the end of the book. Still, Japan is only the setting in the end – this means that there is a bentou for lunch, that you wear slippers in school and that you can learn kendo – but the Japanese culture is never such a big part of the story that it could not take place anywhere else.
Then there is the idea. I do not know enough about Japanese mythology to say how close the author kept to it. Most of the names and terms were familiar, but that does not have to mean anything. Fact is, it has been a nice beginning to a new concept and unfortunately, it does not go further. As the story evolves we get to know a little bit more about the whole matter, but it is not much.
There is one thing to blame for that: everything is about Tomohiro. Of course he is linked to the supernatural part of “Ink”, but he knows less than others and so the knowledge is kept from the reader as well.
It is also in other respects a great disadvantage of the book. If there is something I very much dislike, then it is a boy becoming the centre of the protagonist’s whole life. I have already mentioned that Tomohiro is not the nicest guy, and besides that, Katie actually has enough to worry about: a foreign culture, the loss of her mother … to some extent, she deals with those topics, but the most prominent thing on her mind is always Yuu Tomohiro. It even gets so bad that she only really tackles her grief when he tells her to.
So, it is no wonder that she claims she cannot live without him anymore before half of the book is read. Quickly, there is talk of love, while you will have a hard time to feel any tension between them. It makes it even more unforgivable that the author later romanticizes sexual harassment. Already at the beginning our “hero” breaks off with his girlfriend rather coldly to protect her; never mind that he makes decisions for his partners without asking them; he also goes way too far when he brings Katie, without her knowing, into a so-called “love hotel” (where you can rent a room to have sex without being disturbed) and does not stop touching her even though she already said she does not want any of this. In the end, this is supposed to be a selfless act to help Katie – excuse me, but NO. There are borders, and abuse and harassment of any kind that are depicted as legitimate and worth striving for clearly cross these borders. Besides, it is not as if Tomohiro would have had no other possibilities of action.
The story leaves much to be desired, because the motivation for everything is Tomohiro. Nothing that happens is about Japan or Katie’s family or her well-being – it is always about her “loved one”. That does not only annoy me, it is also very boring especially when you would like to get to know more about the other aspects of the book. Consequently, this information is left behind. “Ink” is also very predictable to some extent. For example, this concerns both things of the past and the ending, which is why I do not feel the need to continue reading this series.
Additionally, the other characters are rather flat; at best they spill a secret or two and add some drama, and that is that.
“Ink” is not a completely bad novel; at least the setting and the main idea are nice. However, in the end this is not a fantasy story with romantic elements but a romance with fantasy elements. Still, even the romance is not able to satisfy, because it is mainly about the protagonist’s love interest, who crosses some borders that should not be crossed. That is not only boring, but also unacceptable.