Every action, every deed, every significant moment is tattooed on your skin for ever. When Leora’s father dies, she is determined to see her father remembered forever. She knows he deserves to have all his tattoos removed and made into a Skin Book to stand as a record of his good life. But when she discovers that his ink has been edited and his book is incomplete, she wonders whether she ever knew him at all.
At the time of writing this review Goodreads have rated this as 3.95 out of 5
I think I’ve mentioned the book cover of Ink before. I don’t normally worry about book covers even though I see a fair few and think ‘ooh, pretty!’ For Ink I also thought, ‘ooh, shiny!’ like some over-enthusiastic magpie and really the picture doesn’t do it justice at all.
The cover for Ink is an eye catcher. All the orange segments are foil which means the book has a lovely metallic shimmer.
Fun fact: Foil = publishers expect sales to be good. A friend who once worked for a publishing house said that using foil for covers is expensive so they only use it on books they expect to bring the ‘kaching’ in. There you go. You have been blessed by The Golden Nugget of Wisdom.
Now, I didn’t realise this was the first book in a trilogy. I’m going to insert an ‘awesome’ here and I want you to be very clear on this one thing – this ‘awesome’ is very, very sarcastic. Awesome.
The reason why I’m providing a sarcastic awesome is because when I read Ink I was looking for and wanting to read a standalone. I had gotten to the point (and still am at that point) where I was genuinely fed up of every book I read being a series or duology or trilogy. I confess that I wouldn’t have picked Ink up had I known but do you know what? They didn’t declare it anywhere on the book. The only was you know it’s ‘to be continued’ is because of the ending and the only way I knew it was to become a trilogy was because of the internet.
“Does no one do standalone’s anymore?!” I cried forlornly to pretty much myself. Because I felt a little duped I became grumpy. Grumpy Gerry is not a good book reader and so those warm and positive feelings evaporated quite quickly and I became The Grumpus which is second only to The Grinch when it comes to general moodiness.
Ok, so I wasn’t best pleased at the whole trilogy revelation but I normally love a trilogy so let’s call that an anomaly. But what did I think of the book? If the book was a stunning masterpiece of glory than surely it would be a good thing that it’s part of a trilogy? A great thing even.
You know where this is going don’t you?
Ink was everything I should have loved. YA speculative fiction with an interesting synopsis and a headstrong teenage girl as the main character. Sign me up! Also, it was written by a first time British writer for NaNoWriMo. I am British! I do NaNoWriMo! “Come to me, my brethren,” I called out. “Let me wrap my arms around you and pull you into the comfort of my less than stellar bosom.”
My expectations were high. Maybe that was the problem, maybe they were too damn high.
That’s not to say that Ink doesn’t have its moments. In this world those who are tattooed with every element of their life have nothing to hide. In turn, they have nothing to fear from those that hunt the ‘blanks.’ ‘Blanks’ are the people that choose to not succumb to societal pressure to be marked. This concept is an interesting one and flirts with the themes of societal pressure, Fantastic Racism, and the right to privacy. I say flirt with because there was a lot of potential left unexplored and I hate when interesting and complex themes are discarded.
What these themes were discarded for, I don’t know. The characters were instantly forgettable and I can’t even remember the main character’s name (I genuinely can’t – is it Mare? No wait, that’s another trilogy that became a series that became another source of me bashing my head against a wall). I also can’t remember the names of her two ‘supposed’ love interests or her ‘wise mentor,’ because what is YA fiction with a female protagonist if it doesn’t have those two devices, am I right? Am I cynical? Yes. Very. Am I bitter? Like the darkest chocolate baby, like the 90% cocoa stuff.
In terms of plot I also couldn’t tell you where this was wanting to go. In complete honesty this was almost a DNF. I put this down several times at the beginning and it took me over a week each time to pick it back up and this is… Just. Not. Good.
I think it truly lost it for me with the excessive world building that took up too much time at the beginning. I hate when the world the characters inhabit aren’t presented to you over the course of the story and instead, just gets ‘dumped’ on the reader in one hit to almost say, ‘here you go, you know everything about our world now, let’s move on.’ The first fourteen chapters in particular felt like constant, unending exposition and there were four pages solid of someone giving a speech which only served to provide background to the ‘conflict.’ All dialogue and no action makes for a very dull passage of text.
It does pick up after chapter fourteen when secrets start to reveal themselves and we get a bit more action and a hint at what is truly at stake. This gave me just enough fuel in my engine to finish reading but it hasn’t interested me enough to continue with the trilogy when the other books are released. Fourteen chapters in is too long a time for a story to get getting more intriguing. Not even fully intriguing, just ‘more.’
In terms of writing, the moments of action were well crafted and engaging. The downside is those moments of action were far and few between and a few sections of interesting writing doesn’t make up for the lack of everything else.
It’s a shame because I really did want to love it.
A book that immediately came to mind about three pages in was the speculative fiction classic, ‘The Illustrated Man’ by Ray Bradbury. It’s a book of short stories I read at school and there is one I still vividly remember a good fifteen years (*cough* plus *cough*) after reading. Now, that is a must read.
The average Goodreads score is double my own so the writer is clearly doing something right. Hey, she also got published so she must be doing something right. Do you see my NaNoWriMo offering in stores? Do you? *Sobs quietly*
I am giving this two stars instead of one (though it was very nearly a DNF) and that extra star is because of the unique concept and also because, when the action gets going, there are some parts that hold the spark of a story going interesting places.
Two is generous for this level of grump.