Book Review: INK by Amanda Sun

Read ‘INK’ by Amanda Sun.

The narrator is Katie Greene- an american girl who had to leave her home, everyone she knew and her life as it was, to live with her aunt Diane in Japan, when her parents died in an accident. She tries to cope with the loss and loneliness, and to adjust to the new surroundings- a totally different country, new language, culture, and a school where very few spoke english. She tries to blend in the crowd by learning the words, the nuances of the language, writing and practising pages and pages of ‘kanji’, the japanese script. Thankfully she has friends- Yuki and Tanaka, but has also got her share of troubles and embarrassments.

The story introduces the mystery right away in the first chapter- Tomohiro- the strange, enigmatic senior whose drawings and sketches made in black ink, move. And through out the first part, Katie tries to find out the truth. There are mysterious situations and characters that add to the plot brilliantly. Katie once grabs Tomohiro’s hand and finds black ink on her palm which vanishes in an instant. There is the sound of ink dripping from paintings, the ‘kendo’ fighting action, and other such circumstances that add to the thrill, even after the revelation of the truth. (Also including funny and romantic scenes, like in a japanese manga.)

The novel is very well researched on japanese language, food, customs and cultures. Every page has three or four japanese words: ‘-kun’ suffix added with a name for a senior, ‘-senpai’ suffix added for a super senior, ‘-chan’ suffix added for a friend, ‘kami’ means god and paper, ‘gaijin’ means foreigner, and ‘sakura’ means cherry blossoms.

“Hana yori dango”- Dumplings over flowers, a proverbial saying meaning- one should meet one’s need first, before satisfying his wants. There’s a japanese movie with the same name too.

The description of japanese food in the book is yummy, sounds really delicious, especially the dumpling sticks. And there are other dishes that Diane prepares for Katie to take to the picnic during the cherry blossoms viewing festival. All sound tasty but difficult to pronounce the names. The description of cherry blossoms is just so beautiful- the thin white and pink papery flowers that cover all the cherry trees for just a few weeks!! More of japan is highlighted in the ‘Tea ceremony’ and ‘kendo’ clubs that Katie attends. Japanese art and calligraphy is also focused greatly.

The plot is so one of its kind, a genuinely original one with such a new paranormal concept involving the ‘Kami’. It gives one a feeling of actually visiting japan. I would rate it 3.5/5 stars.


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