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Reading, Writing and Being Generally Awesome

I have no idea what I'm doing.
Ink - Amanda Sun 3.5 StarsRecently, I've become obsessed with Japanese culture. I've signed up to take Japanese in the fall, I watch anime and read manga rather than sleep, I eat homemade mochi as much as possible, I read stories of mythology and stare at pictures of the countryside trying to picture myself in them. I'm by no means an expert, but I'm absolutely fascinated and hope to one day travel to Japan and see the rich culture for myself. So when I read the description of Ink, I had the hardest time holding back from requesting. I stayed off it for a few weeks, until one of my friends posted a fantastic review of the book, praising it for all she was worth, and then I got on that like white-on-rice (heh).Look at that cover? Don't you want to read this? It's gorgeous and eye-catching and actually really fits the content of the novel, which is rare. I played right into it and though I found many faults in the story, I can't help but give it a good rating because the Japanese aspects of the story just tickled me (in a total not weird way). It reads like your favorite (and often typical) manga and anime plots, and since I'm big on both, I was pretty okay with that. Katie's mother has died and rather than burden her sick grandparents, she has decided to join her aunt in Japan. There she is the odd-girl-out, noticeable because of her foreign looks and struggle to take on the language. She has few friends, and does not like living there. Enter Tomohiro Yuu, all around bad boy, pride of the kendo team and secret artist. Katie is drawn to Tomo for some inexplicable reason. As the two fall in love and his secrets are revealed, Katie finds that it's more than just her heart that's in danger.I often felt that the author tried too hard to make Katie seem independent. Katie's character is a contradiction. There are times when she displays a profound strength, standing up for herself and being her own person, then moments later she's meek and shallow in love with Yuu. I mean, in the beginning, she basically stalks the boy until he hangs out with her. Tomohiro, too, is a strange character. If I'm being totally, honest, I'm not too fond of him. There are times when he's almost abusive in his demeanor. He is a stereotypical misunderstood bad boy with a reputation, the only difference is this is set in Japan. Honestly, that is the only thing that make this different. And that's integration of the culture is the only thing I really liked about it, well that and the fact that Tomo blushes if Katie even accidentally grazes him--so adorable. Their dramatic relationship went from interesting to annoying. The setup went pretty well at first, then came the declarations of love (ew, insta-love!) and offering their deaths to save one another. I mean, that's all well and good if it's written maturely, but the presentation was too overdone for my tastes.The plot moved pretty steadily, that's another reason why it was so difficult to put down. I couldn't find a perfect stopping place and I just wanted to keep reading! The whole idea behind this story--the kami, the drawings, the history of it all was really unique and attention grabbing. It will make the novel a difficult one to forget. That being said, the predictability was an issue for me. The major twists were immediately obvious to me, and that made for a bump in the road. Everything is laid out in front of you in a cliche manner, which makes extremely easy to decipher what's to happen next. But again with the point that though it had it's issues, this book was addicting and I enjoyed it. So no, this book was not perfect, at least, not for me. Though I found several faults in the story, I will be continuing for sure. The depiction of the culture and the story overall balanced out with the cheesy romance and cliches enough to make me want more. Sun has intrigued me with Ink and I sincerely look forward to seeing how the rest of the series plays out. Ink is a pretty good read that many are sure to enjoy!I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review via Netgalley.This review can be seen here on my blog as well.