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.
I am so torn on this book. On the one hand the author really captured Japan. I felt like I was there and like I was getting a real look at what it’s like to live in Japan, not just a stereotypical “we eat sushi all the time” version. The cultural elements were great and I loved seeing Katie have to adapt to living in Japan (although we could have gotten more of the cultural shock). It was a little unbelievable that her Japanese was good enough after just a couple of months that she was attending school in Japanese, but hey some people are good with languages (
I am not. This makes me cry). Also, side note, but are foreigners just allowed to attend public schools in Japan? In a lot of places this isn’t a thing but who knows. Anyway, the Japanese elements of the story were fantastic. Also amazing was the inclusion of Japanese mythology. It was so refreshing to see a mythology used that I was less familiar with. /Mild spoiler/ the idea of manipulating ink and having drawings come to life was incredibly cool.
Buuuuut, the book suffered really badly from a case of insta-love with the mysterious dangerous angsty boy. In this way, it felt a whole lot like Twilight. Katie and Tomohiro even have a special secret
meadow construction site where they get to know each other and learn about Tomohiro’s ~mysterious secrets~. Katie’s friends get pushed to the side and she devotes almost all her time to thinking about and being with Tomohiro. And then Tomohiro did the whole “you should stay away from me for your own safety” thing.
The premise of the book otherwise was interesting enough that I kept reading despite my frustration with the romance. If the romance angle had just been neatly cut out of this book, the ideas and mythology were so cool. Buuut the romance.
To be fair, if this were a manga or an anime, it would have been a slamdunk. Manga and anime can somehow manage to incorporate cliches in a way that works but I am so sick of in YA fiction.
Also, LABEL YOUR BOOK IF IT IS THE FIRST IN A SERIES THIS IS NOT THAT HARD. Luckily this book did have more of an arc and mostly works as a stand alone book. BUT SERIOUSLY tell the reader in advance if they aren’t going to get the whole story in one book.
Stay magical readers!