Thursday, August 15, 2013

DNF Explanation: Ink by Amanda Sun

DNF Explanation

Read: 100 of 368
Received: ARC from publisher

I seriously tried to stick with this book. I kept making little bargains with myself like, "Just read until you discover what the mythology is all about and if you still don't like it then you can quit" or "Just read an hour a day and you'll be finished in no time!"

I even started skimming in the hopes that I could hurry up through the boring stuff and get to the meat of the story. I did that for about two pages before I realized this is ridiculous and by gosh I am a shameless DNF-er and I've championed the idea of not wasting any time with books I'm not feeling when there are a bizillion books I could be reading instead and I just needed to stick to my guns and DNF already. So I did.

Is there a pre-req Manga course I was supposed to take?

First, the feeling that I was missing something. The main character Katie is an American girl suddenly thrown into living in Japan and she totally feels like a fish out of water. And I got that feeling. Amanda Sun did a great job of making me feel like I was dropped into something completely foreign and disorienting and not at all something I can relate to. Hey, just like Katie!

Except I HATE that feeling. I like order and planning and knowing exactly what I'm getting into. I don't even like changing plans at the last minute.

And, ok, I love reading historical fiction and mentally traveling to all these different places that are just as foreign to me as modern day Japan, but at least I feel grounded in those stories. Amanda Sun bombarded me with all sorts of  random cultural things like naming conventions and stuff like that, but she didn't provide me with a coherent framework at all.

I felt like I was at a social gathering with a blindfold and a bunch of people animatedly talking about all these tiny details about a movie I've never watched and no one will stop discussing for one second to just clue me in on a basic plot summary.

The fact that Amanda Sun used Japanese terms to describe half the stuff didn't help AT ALL, either.

And a pre-req Japanese course?

Which leads to my second reason for DNF-ing. Ok, look, I get it, we're in Japan. And you know what language people speak in Japan? Japanese. Totally understand that. And I totally get that the dialogue I'm reading is actually being spoken by the characters in Japanese without the author interjecting Japanese words into the narrative every fifth word.

Which also doesn't make any sense because if the assumption is that everyone is speaking Japanese, then why am I reading a mix of mostly English with a few random Japanese words thrown in? I loathe it when authors do this (it is also far too common in historical fiction).

And, also, guess what language this reader speaks? Yeah, not Japanese. I'm irritated all over again just thinking about this.

Shunning in the cafeteria level hate

But fine. Maybe I could have put up with all that (I've certainly put up with the stupid random foreign language interjections thing before). I'm a character girl, plus I was looking forward to this nifty new mythology I kept hearing about.

So, characters. These characters were the same exact characters in every other cookie-cutter YA paranormal. Katie is blindingly dumb, abrasive, perfect (though she's the first to deny it!), and, oh yes, a stalker.

See, she meets this guy who is totally Bad News (so says everyone, including himself in a very cryptic Edward-ish "It's better if we're not friends because I'm dangerous" kinda way) and of course she immediately starts stalking and falling in love with him.

And if that wasn't pathetic enough (girl, get a life) Amanda Sun has totally convinced me that this guy is a grade A jerkface and I want nothing to do with him. Though he's also inexplicably drawn to Katie! But he needs to push he away. Except then he takes her out to dinner. And then pushes her away again. But then tells her he likes being near her. So, yeah.  

I read 100 pages, and most of that was filled with Katie acting like a psycho stalker. The rest was spent on her vehemently denying the possibility of paranormal happenings (she starts seeing drawings move) while also screaming at Jerkface that SHE KNOWS HE KNOWS SOMETHING WEIRD IS GOING ON WITH HIS PICTURES!

There's more, like bland place-holder friends and a mysterious-but-nice guy who will probably become the losing side of the inevitable love triangle, but does it even matter?

Oh, right, the mythology

WHAT mythology? Drawings move. Ink...drips? A lot? I'm sure there will be more, but at almost a third of the way in, I need a little more than that. Given the quality and lack of originality in the rest of the story, I don't have high hopes for the mythology. Maybe I'm wrong, but at this point I don't care.

Bottom line

Not for me. Then again, I had pretty similar things to say about Die For Me, so readers who liked that series would probably like Ink.

Do you want to read Ink? Because I'm totally willing to trade my copy! Email me at smallreview at yahoo dot com if you have something on my wishlist, ARC wishlist, or something you think I'd like!

Do you have any questions about Ink that I haven't addressed?
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Have you read Ink? What did you think about it? 

Looking for another book like this?
You might like:

 Click on the pictures to go to my reviews/Goodreads.


  1. Ah, yes. You being a character-driven reader was part of why I wasn't sure you'd like it. The Japanese conversation part didn't miff me much this time around since Katie is a foreigner and I assumed that maybe they'd switch between English and Japanese for her? Or at least that it was a reflection of her not belonging. But yes. The plot and the characters needed a bit of work. The mythology part comes with explaining the ink drawings, but if they weren't intriguing you and nothing else really was either, I doubt the explanation would be enough :/.

    I thought it was interesting, though, that this was the first YA PNR I'd seen with a glossary at the back because of all the Japanese terms she used. Too bad I discovered that after the fact but still. I hope your next read works out better :).

    1. Ah ok, I figured the mythology was tied in with the drawings.

      They definitely did switch between English and Japanese for her (and it was also annoying to me whenever she'd comment on how she was so flattered that certain characters would speak to her in Japanese and assume she was smart enough to keep up. And she was!) but I think there were also random Japanese words thrown in. Like, the author would establish that they were speaking Japanese, the sentence would be in English so we can understand and then a random Japanese word would be thrown in there.

      They do that in a Marie Antoinette book I love. It will be all like (the characters are speaking in French) "Let's go to the garden where the chien can play!" instead of just saying "dog"

  2. Totally enjoyed reading your review. That was a good reason to DNF, and at least you gave it a chance!

  3. Ugh. Seriously. UGH.

    The whole language thing is HUGE for me. The occasional word sprinkled in here and there - with a translation! - is one thing, but when it reaches the point where you get lost because you have no idea what's going on...that's taking it too far. I'm currently reading a book set during WWI & there's a group of German characters. Every once in a while one of them will say sentences in German and it won't be translated. I can't imagine dealing with that for an entire BOOK.

    These days I'm far more willing to drop a book if I'm not completely into it. I'm sorry this one didn't work out for you.

  4. Oh goodness...I have this and Die for Me on my TBR! *worried*

    1. Well, if you like on then you'll probably like the other!

  5. Since I didn't like Die For Me, I'm guessing Ink won't work for me, either. I don't remember that you didn't like Die for Me, though. I'm going to have to look up your review.

    My high school had a lot of Asian students (mostly Koreans, but plenty of Taiwanese and Japanese), so cultural differences were often discussed by teachers. I remember there were a bewildering number of them. I can't imagine what it must be like to be so immersed in a culture you have no familiarity with. It would be like taking all of our social anxiety and multiplying it by a thousand. Not something that appeal to us, I think.

    1. EXACTLY!! That's probably a large part of why I didn't like it. You know me so well :)

      And, no, I don't think you'd like Ink. I think you'd really dislike the MC.

  6. I was so upset to discover that there was a glossary at the back of my e-galley because that would have been SUPER useful knowledge to have when I was actually reading the darn thing. I figured I would eventually figure out what the repeated words meant but it never happened. I did manage to finish this because I'm really bad at DNF-ing books but I wasn't very happy about it.

    1. I didn't use a glossary, but I'm not sure it would have made a difference because another one of my reading pet peeves is "having to flip back to the glossary every other sentence" :P

  7. That sounds really bad. I'm glad I didn't read this - I was tempted by the pretty cover but I had too much on my plate already - I do love manga and japanese culture but I hate the things you mentioned here (the throwing in random words and the fact that it felt like you should be in the know before hand).

    It sounds like this book would give me anxiety just reading it from feeling i was out of place or that I didn't understand stuff because it was my fault.

    Not a great feeling to have.

    Hope your next read is totes better.

    1. You might have understood more than I did with your manga/Japanese culture experience so maybe you would have liked it more? That went a long way toward making me feel out of place (and, yes, "anxiety" is totally the perfect word!) I'm not sure though, given all the other things.

  8. It's so annoying when you've read a large chunk of the story and still don't know what's going on. I requested this one for review because I thought it sounded interesting and found it appealing that it was set in Japan, but after I saw a review talking about what a stalker Katie is, I decided I wouldn't bother reading it. I'm so glad that your review validated my decision, Small!

    1. haha yeah, she's a huge stalker. It's really bizarre behavior.

  9. Hmmmm....I've been so excited for this one, but based on what you've said I'm not super excited anymore. I mean, I HATE when the dumb blond goes for the jerkface in a total stalker-ish way. NOT COOL, GIRLFRIEND.

    SO yeah. We'll have to see on this one. *le sigh*

    Great review, Small! Totally good explanations as to why you put it down. Good thing you might have been miserable for another 200 pages. LOL

    Sierra @ Yearning to Read

    1. lol, yes not cool at all!!! :P Maybe you'll like the rest more than I did and then maybe Katie gets less stalkerish as the story goes on? I'll definitely be interested in reading your take if you do decide to pick it up.

      haha, I can't even begin to imagine having pushed through the remaining 200 pages.

  10. I can feel your frustration with this one almost radiating off the page. :-) Luckily for me, this book never even attracted my attention. It wasn't my kind of cover and the blurb didn't call my name. Sounds like its good I didn't request it from NG. I don't have it on my TBG list either. Sorry it wasn't your kind of read. Its always fun to see you dissect a book drilling down to what didn't work for you. I appreciate your honest opinions!

    1. :) I had a very emotional response! It's not my kind of cover either. I should have cover judged it! haha

  11. It's true - you've mastered the art of knowing when to DNF a book! You're quite good at it and seem to feel no guilt... I am the other hand have yet to DNF a book in my life. Like, it could be the most painful experience EVER and I would still read it to the end. I just cannot bring myself to not finish a book, no matter how terrible, and I am perfectly aware of how silly that is! I don't know why.

    But yeah... I have yet to read a good review for this one, unfortunately. And I was real interested when I first saw it, too, because I love Japan and Japanese culture and books that include those things, but it doesn't sound like that aspect was integrated very well into the story and I know I wouldn't be into that. Another thing I'm not into: stalkers. Just, why? I don't understand why stalkers are so common in paranormals.

    1. LOL! oh Aylee, just think of all the good books waiting for you to finish reading your bad book! :P You're not alone though.

      I'm confused about the stalker/paranormal connection too. You don't see too many stalkers in fantasy books.

    2. Aylee, you describe my feeling to a "T". I can't seem to DNF a book either. Its so weird, but once I start, I just feel obligated to finish. I feel like I'm giving up on something if I just don't see it through. Its good to know I'm not alone. I wish I could be like Small and just give it up for better reads. But somehow my personality goes against it.


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