by Amanda Sun
Read: June 11 - 16,, 2014
Published: June 24, 2014 by Harlequin Teen **TOMORROW**
Category: Japan, paranormal romance, paper arts, ink mythology, YA
Series: Paper Gods #2
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository
American Katie Green has decided to stay in Japan. She's started to build a life in the city of Shizuoka, and she can't imagine leaving behind her friends, her aunt and especially Tomohiro, the guy she's fallen in love with. But her return is not as simple as she thought. She's flunking out of Japanese school and committing cultural faux pas wherever she goes. Tomohiro is also struggling—as a Kami, his connection to the ancient gods of Japan and his power to bring drawings to life have begun to spiral out of control.
When Tomo decides to stop drawing, the ink finds other ways to seep into his life—blackouts, threatening messages and the appearance of unexplained sketches. Unsure how to help Tomo, Katie turns to an unexpected source for help—Jun, her former friend and a Kami with an agenda of his own. But is Jun really the ally he claims to be? In order to save themselves, Katie and Tomohiro must unravel the truth about Tomo's dark ancestry, as well as Katie's, and confront one of the darkest gods in Japanese legend.
Rain is book two in Amanda Sun's Ink trilogy. See my review of the first book, HERE. This series is about a girl named Katie who moves to Japan to live with her aunt, after the death of her mom. At school, she meets a boy named Tomohiro whose drawings come to life, and they soon learn that his gift (or is it curse?) is tied to a much larger and frightening tradition of ink manipulators called Kami. Even though she is not Japanese, Katie is also linked to this paper arts heritage. In Rain, Katie and Tomo find out more about how they personally connect to the Kami and the history of Japan.
So much of this series I love: The Japanese culture. The ink mythology. The accompanying drawings scattered throughout the text. Watching Katie struggle to navigate a society that is foreign to hers. A diverse relationship with a Japanese boy. Even the way these two tried to work together despite the odds against them. Although Tomo started the series as a typical mysterious bad boy, I've loved watching his growth, all while he is fighting something much bigger than himself that he doesn't understand. In Rain, Tomo truly shined as a character. Even the language felt authentic, as author Amanda Sun used Japanese words in the text and linked them to a glossary in the back.
However the elements I didn't like brought the story down big time. I had trouble connecting with Katie's decisions in this book, and I haven't forgiven her for some of the things she does. Rain tries to reintroduce a love triangle with Jun, and it was about the most irritating thing ever. Although the story never progresses to a real triangle, it is teased throughout the entire novel. It's also nowhere near as innocent as Katie kept claiming. Take some responsibly, girl! In addition, there are a few side characters attempting to enact some sort of love pentagon, and a lot of drama near the end regarding it all, which made the whole situation worse. I don't like love triangles in general, but none of this seemed necessary to me. Thankfully, Tomo stands strong through it all, but he was way too forgiving of Katie in my opinion.
The good news is that by the end of the book the relationship drama has been settled (for now). Although it appears to be over, I don't trust that it won't resurge again, since it did before when I didn't expect it. I also won't be finishing the series if it comes back. However I do want to reiterate that this isn't ever a real love triangle. It's always Katie and Tomo as the main pair, but will annoying obstacles thrown in. Almost always Katie's fault.
As for the mythology, which, unfortunately, got incredibly tangled up to the love situation, we get both exciting and devastating revelations. I'm eager to see how this all resolves at the end of the final book. (So PLEASE don't bring back any love triangles.)
I always feel very sad when a book I want to love - and do love many elements of - throws in a love triangle or something else that negatively impacts my experience with the whole story. I really want to recommend this series wholeheartedly, as I think it has many amazing qualities. I LOVE that this book is set in modern Japan and steeps the reader into that culture. But I just cannot recommend this without reservations. If you are less militant about triangles than I am, you may weigh Katie's behavior as far less on the emotional annoyance scale than I did. But that aspect of it is just too typical YA paranormal romance for me, and it spoiled some of the unique qualities. In fact, basically, all the elements about this series that have bugged me between the first two books, have been the standard PNR elements. Crossing my fingers that book 3 will contain all the good qualities of this series, without the disappointing ones.
Love Triangle Factor: In reality, Mild. In emotional aggravation, at least a Medium
Cliffhanger Scale: Low/Medium. Stops in a settled moment, good breaking point. But includes some revelations that tease their next steps.