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.
1. As you were reading “Ink,” what aspects of Japanese culture did you find yourself wanting to learn more about?
I’ve always loved Japanese inspired items or stories, so I’d love to learn anything really, but I think if I had to pick one thing it would be the history of the geisha. I’ve always found them fascinating and have watched “Memoirs of a Geisha” several times. I think wanting to learn more stems from all of the traditions that surround them. Japanese culture (IMO) has so many traditions and ceremonies, something I can relate to being from the south. I do have to admit I’d be a little terrified to actually visit Japan though because of the sheer volume of people there. When I’m out of my comfort zone adding in millions of people that speak another language and know where they are going scares me to death. –Kristina (Gone Pecan)
I’m continuously fascinated by the idea of Face, politeness theory, and nomenclature within Japanese and other East Asian cultures. The idea that saying someone your age’s first name or touching someone in a friendly (asexual, non-aggressive) manner can be considered overly familiar is so interesting to me. Think of how often the Japanese (and later even Katie) blushed because of boundary overstepped. As for politeness/Face — Katie tells the reader that it’s rude to casually decline or say no to an invitation or question. Japan is a culture where you have to read between the lines and be careful not to offend. When I first married my Asian husband, I found dealing with these issues infuriating and frustrating, but now I am just fascinated, because it’s so different than the loud/affectionate/expressive way I was raised. –Sandie
2. If you found yourself living in a country with a completely different culture, like Katie did, what aspect would you find the most difficult to adjust to (language, food, customs, interpersonal communication, relationships, etc.)?
I would find the language and the food most difficult. First of all, I’m a talker. Even worse? A hand talker. I’d worry that a) I would understand no one and therefore would not be able to find basic necessities like chocolate and public restrooms and b) everyone would think I was crazy because I would be moving my arms and hands so much (this seems to be a very obnoxious American thing, I hate to say). Second, don’t even get me started on food. I hate, hate, HATE to try new things! I need to know what’s in my food, how it’s cooked, and I especially don’t like weird garnishes and sauces. Blech! I would probably die of starvation in a foreign country– unless it was France, where I’d exist on cheese and chocolate croissants, obviously. –Tammy (YA Crush)
I think the most difficult think for me would be establishing relationships in a country with a completely different culture! I tend to be shy around people I don’t know, much less trying to speak a foreign language AND adapt to customs that I’m not familiar with. I think I’d be incredibly afraid of offending people with my ignorance and that would prevent me from really connecting with people and being able to make friends or getting to know people. I can totally understand where Katie is coming from in the book! It would be so hard to move from your home town much less your home country. I’m happy that she was able to make friends and that they were nice and welcoming to her… But I would totally be right there with her having all those awkward moments with all of the culture & traditions! –Brittany (The Book Addict’s Guide)
If I found myself living in a new country I think that I would have the most difficult time learning the language. Even though I am bilingual (I speak English and Spanish), I tried to learn French in college and found it difficult. I think it would be so hard being in a room and not being able to follow the conversation. I know it would take me way longer than several months to learn enough to have conversations. Another thing that would be difficult is learning how to interact with others appropriately. These are things that you learn as you’re growing up and you naturally know that you don’t talk to strangers on the subway, or that you don’t stand up close to someone on the elevator. In another country I would need constant guidance on how to act in public. I’m sure I would commit many “faux pas” before fitting in. —Diana
3. If, like Katie, you found yourself having to live in a different country, which non-English speaking country would you want to live in and immerse yourself in and why?
I would go to Spain, for sure. I was a Spanish major in college, so that would be the place I would feel most comfortable with! I would much prefer to speak the language and then figure out how to assimilate myself into a culture!! Also, living in Spain would give me the opportunity to see the rest of Europe which is something I’ve always wanted to do! I would love to explore the history of Spain — and Europe — and it would be just amazing to live there! –Brittany
Italy. I’ve always had a slight obsession with visiting and I may or may not have bought several workbooks to learn Italian. There is so much to see! My sister-in-law’s sister’s late husband (still with me?) was from there, and they went back to stay with his family every summer. She had offered for me to go with them, but unfortunately I didn’t have that much time or money to go then. I’m still hoping to go one day… maybe as part of a tour where I can stop in on several countries and see a few of the “top spots” on my list. It’s so rich with art and historical landmarks and I look forward to seeing some of it. —Kristina
4. What did you think about the romance between Katie and Tomo? How does it compare to romances in other fantasy novels?
I honestly was not a fan of it. While I think they had this “oh, this person intrigues me!” romance going on, it first felt like they were total jerks to each other (for no reason whatsoever) and then boom, they’re in love. There wasn’t even really a catalyst, like he saves her life (“Twilight”) or… any other book out there. Once they finally got together, I guess it worked, but since there was no “falling in love” moment, I didn’t really connect with it. Comparing to other romances in fantasy… I think it depends on what novels we’re talking about. Does it compare to the romance in say… “Dark Triumph” or “Crown of Midnight” (my two new favorites), absolutely not. Does it compare to “Twilight”? I think so. — Candice (The Grown-Up YA)
I don’t mind romances that take a while to develop, but I thought it was interesting that on one hand Katie and Tomo’s feelings were obviously and immediately romantic, but that they took so long to actually say it or act on those feelings. So there was a cross between the “instalove” that’s so prevalent in YA romances but also the build up of a friendship that’s clearly “more” but that takes time to express itself physically. –Sandie
5. What did you think/feel about the Japanese mythology that “Ink” is based on?
Since I’m not really familiar with Japanese mythology (even though I wish I was!) it was interesting to not only see the factual lore behind it as well as the twists that it took to create the plot. I loved the idea of the different Kami and how they descended through the ages. I always think of Japanese mythology as being more out there, not mythical or dark like I think of Greek and Egyptian mythology. It’s kind of romantic in a way I think, not rough or wild like other mythologies can be. I felt it was a great way to get introduced to something I haven’t read much about AND get exposed to some Japanese history/religion too! –Candice
I actually thought the Japanese mythology was one of the book’s best features. It was like reading “Scorpio Races” without knowing anything about water horses. The idea of the Paper Gods is so cool, and it made me wonder more about Japanese myths, how well-known they are, and what will happen next in the series. –Sandie
In school I remember learning about Greek and Roman mythology. I am very familiar with the stories of Hercules, Zeus, Aphrodite, Mercury, and of course Diana (also known as Artemis). However, I never learned anything about Japanese mythology and it was very refreshing and interesting to learn about it. It was one of the main things that made Ink so interesting to read. —Diana
Make sure to check out everyone else in the Selective Collective’s features, especially Daphne & Kristina’s interview with Amanda Sun and giveaway of the book!