Rain (The Paper Gods, #2) – this is the sequel to Ink. Disclaimer: I would suggest reading Ink (or at least a summary on Goodreads) before reading this review as there could be something you might consider a spoiler. I’ve tried my best to exclude any major ones.
Release Date: June 24, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Synopsis on Goodreads:
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.
When the first book in a series is a 5-star read, there’s always the fear that the sequel won’t live up to the same expectations. I’m happy to say I loved Rain even more than Ink! Our two main characters, Katie and Tomohiro are finding new conflicts to solve almost everyday, and at that more types (which will be explained below). This novel definitely represents the title: it’s raining ink!
As I mentioned, Katie and Tomohiro have a lot of problems to solve – both on a large and small scale. There’s the main one – trying to find a way to control the ink in Tomo while avoiding the Kami, all with dangerous agendas of their own. However, there’s also the relationship of Katie and Tomohiro. The two are officially dating, but it’s not exactly peaches-and-cream. I find situations like this incredibly intriguing because of the decisions the characters choose to make. Depending on who you ask, the point of a novel is to have a protagonist in an undesirable situation. Every one of their actions will have a ripple effect and it’s up to that character to decide if that effect will be positive or negative. Basically, when the going gets tough how does that character overcome it.
I love Sun’s writing! There’s something about it that appears visually beautiful to me, even graceful. Sun always makes a point to immerse the reader in Japanese culture and language. The opening chapter of this book has Katie and Yuki, a friend from school, getting ready for the Abekawa Hanabi festival and it was wonderful to imagine the beautiful yukata (summer kimono) Katie was wearing and all the activities going on. I’ve always wanted to travel to Japan so these are the kind of things I yearn to read.
Sun also includes Japanese phrases which both introduces the reader to the language but also helps the reader remember for the majority of the novel, the characters are speaking Japanese. Now that we’re on the subject, although Katie’s Japanese is improving there are still some challenges ahead. Since she’s decided to stay in Japan indefinitely her teachers are harder on her about improving her kanji (Japanese writing) which even native speakers can find difficult to read. As well, the language barrier between Tomohiro and Katie remains. Something as simple as “ow, ouch” Katie finds difficult to translate from English, which really puts things in perspective.
I feel the plot has grown immensely from Ink, and we see more of the mythology – which is a huge plus in my book because I live for fantasy! It seemed like there was some new twist revealed on almost every other chapter. Additionally, the characters are traveling more in order to resolve some of their problems. Not only are we reading about other parts of Shizuoka, but we’re visiting shrines and even Mount Fuji. Sun is showing different parts of Japan while still adhering to the plot.
For delving deeper into the fantastical elements of The Paper Gods world and having the protagonists face greater obstacles, I give this book five stars. There are some epic fight scenes that have me speculating just how much more outstanding the finale of this series will be. I’m impatiently awaiting for the chance to read Storm (book #3). I strongly recommend this series to anyone wanting to read powerful writing and diverse characters.