ARC Review: Rain by Amanda Sun

RainTitle: Rain (Paper Gods, #2)

Author: Amanda Sun

Publication date: June 24, 2014

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Pages: 304

Source: e-ARC from publisher and author via Netgalley

Purchase the book:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

Synopsis: 

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.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

With a riveting and utterly striking plot, Rain is everything I hoped for in a sequel. Amanda Sun’s writing is as vividly beautiful as it is in Ink. Her captivating words paint an authentic and breathing picture of Japan. Aside from the author’s writing, I love the rich and well-developed backstory that explained the connections of Katie, Tomo, and Jun to the ink. Also, the thorough illustration of the Kami history helped reveal the true identities of the characters. Clarity and understanding of the Paper Gods world ensued after the revelations that resulted to my greater appreciation of the series. Moreover, Rain exhibits brilliant character development as the pressure-filled situations in the story highlight each character’s capabilities and vulnerable points. Tomo, Katie, and Jun have come a long way as characters but I feel that there’s a lot more to discover about them in Book 3. Katie’s struggles of living in a foreign country are also given attention in Rain.

The romance in Rain brings forth an exhilarating emotional rush that will set readers’ hearts drumming in a buzzing rhythm. As Katie and Tomo’s connection escalate from puppy love to a mature romantic relationship, both characters learn more about each other on a deeper level. Readers would really feel the love between Katie and Tomo as expressed in their tender moments. Their unquestionable chemistry clearly defines how significant they are to each other. What’s more, the strength of Katie and Tomo’s relationship gets tested when problems arise in the form of Jun and Shiori. Jun’s intriguing strategy to win Katie’s attention (and heart) is unbelievably insane, for me, at least. Jun’s motives show his immense desire for power. On the other hand, Tomo’s pregnant friend Shiori puts her jealousy toward Katie on display. Her character totally surprised me! It turns out Shiori’s not the girl that she was in Ink. But honestly, I think it’s a genius twist to increase the tension in the story.

Emblazoned with an electrifying and magnificent cinematic vibe, Rain is a sequel that’s definitely worth the wait! Amazing from beginning to end! 🙂

 

Rating:

4.5/5 stars

Blog Tour: Rain by Amanda Sun (Guest Post)

RAIN Blog Tour

Hello everyone! For my stop on the RAIN blog tour today, amazing author Amanda Sun discusses her world building process for the much-awaited sequel to INK! Isn’t that great? Okay, I won’t keep you hanging. Amanda Sun now on the spotlight!

 

World Building for RAIN

The Paper Gods may take place in modern-day Japan, but that doesn’t mean world building doesn’t come into play. Even when you write something set in a real-life place, you have to make a lot of decisions. How much is true to reality? What are the limits of your magic system? How did your characters come to have the abilities they have? And just how do you add in cultural info without info-dumping or creating a landscape that’s too foreign for readers to follow?

When I was designing the world for The Paper Gods, I did a lot of research into the old stories of the kami. I read the Kojiki, an 8th-century text recording the early creation myths. I read a bunch of Japanese fairy tales, and visited Japanese schools. I interviewed high school students about daily life, slang they used, and activities they liked to pursue. And I referenced the journal I kept while I was an exchange student living in Osaka. Together, all this research produced the bare bones for The Paper Gods.

A lot of the history of the ink is where I got very lucky. In INK, Katie visits Itsukushima Shrine, a shrine I had the opportunity to visit while in Japan, and one that’s widely known for its famous Shinto Torii. It seemed like a good cultural symbol to bring into play. At the same time, Itsukushima Shrine was linked to the kami Susanou, which gave Katie a chance to ask questions about the origins of Kami. I researched Itsukushima and found out that Taira no Kiyomori had spent a lot of money restoring the shrine after it had burned down. Then I researched Taira no Kiyomori, and found out that he was plagued with horrible nightmares at the end of his life, before he finally passed away.

Nightmares? Sounds like Tomo. So I twisted the history just a touch to say that he and Tomo shared the same horrible Kami nightmares, the same dark fate.

In RAIN, I talk about another historical figure who was involved with a lot of the shrines in Shizuoka City—Tokugawa Ieyasu. He was kidnapped as a child by a rival family, and not long after, both his father and one of his captors died suddenly. Ah! Another event that could be twisted just a touch into Kami myth. Instead of building a world entirely, I took the world that was there, and connected it in new ways to create a hopefully believable history for the Kami. Samurai families colliding with the emperor’s descendants? Put the ink into the situation and see what happens.

In a similar way, I wanted Tomo’s drawings to come to life, but I didn’t want to give him too much power. It’s not much of a story if he’s god-like and unstoppable. So I made the drawings unstable. They don’t react the way he wants them to. They come after him and his loved ones. In this way, I was able to build a strange world but still have limits to make things interesting.

I really wanted The Paper Gods above all to be a fun and exciting trip to Japan. I know a lot of readers who are hoping to visit Japan someday, or who have been and want to relive the experience. I hope that The Paper Gods helps to transport you there, without hitting you over the head that you’re in Japan. I try to focus on little details—the humming of vending machines, the food Katie and her friends bring for lunch, the sounds of the school bell—instead of larger scale things like, for example, Tokyo Tower in the distance. I hope the effect is a more subtle world built around them, instead of shouting the location over the plot.

At the end of the day it’s about story. You need to create a world that collides with what the protagonists want and need. It has to restrict them, to go against their goals. I hope you’ll find this thought useful when writing your own worlds ^_^

 

Thank you very much Amanda for the wonderful guest post! Now we all know why the world of the Paper Gods series is all kinds of extraordinary. 🙂 The RAIN blog tour continues tomorrow at Fragments of Life. Don’t miss it!

 

GIVEAWAY!

Please click on the link below and you’ll be directed to the Rafflecopter form!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to US/Canada only.

 

*For the full RAIN blog tour schedule, head over to Amanda Sun’s Tumblr page

ARC Review: Ink by Amanda Sun (Paper Gods #1)

InkTitle: Ink

Author: Amanda Sun

Published: July 5, 2013

Publisher: MIRA Ink

Pages: 384

Source: e-ARC from the publisher

Synopsis:

A MAGIC MIGHTIER THAN ANY SWORD

A DESTINY THAT CAN’T BE DENIED

Katie Greene is lost in the wake of her mum’s death. Sent to Japan, she meets gorgeous but aloof artist Tomohiro, whose tough attitude intrigues and scares her. Then things get really strange. When they’re near each other, Tomohiro’s drawings start to come to life…

Soon the wrong people begin to ask questions, and Katie and Tomohiro must risk everything to protect the truth

*Image and synopsis from Goodreads

My review: 

For a long time, I’ve been wishing to read a paranormal/fantasy YA novel set in Asia and has a unique and compelling plot. I browsed every shelf at bookstores looking for something that suits my interest, but did not find any. I wanted a story that will blow my mind with its awesomeness and will make me beg for more after reading the last page. I discovered Ink from a book blog late last year and I considered that moment an answered prayer. I was instantly dazzled by the gorgeous cover and the equally undeniable synopsis. Set in Japan? Drawings come to life? Oh my gosh, I WANT this book! I put Ink in my 2013 TBR list right away.

Amanda Sun did a great job in telling the story. Her thorough and comprehensible descriptions combined with the well-paced story sequence made this debut novel a vibrant read. Ink immediately whisked me away from reality and shoved me into a glittering fictional world that radiates color, magic and mystery. I’ve never been to Japan but when I read Ink, I felt like I went on a field trip to that country. Amanda Sun captured the soul and magnificence of Japan’s reality and outstandingly integrated it into fiction. Her first hand experience of living in Japan is a huge factor in presenting its rich culture. Authenticity bleeds on every page and that’s one of the reasons why I find this book so good. I’ve always had a thing for effortless and organic writing and Ink embodied those qualities.

I found the Japanese words planted within the story—places, food, expressions—really interesting and informative. I was not only reading for enjoyment but also learning at the same time. Ink made me appreciate the Japanese culture and language. In fact, I remembered my Japanese foster sister, Yuri, who stayed with my family for a few days last December 2012. She and her classmates had an educational tour in the Philippines. Yuri taught us a few Japanese words and one of those was Ohayo.

The paranormal aspect of Ink is fantastic. It certainly gave the story a heartbeat that resonates in its entirety. The Kami enraptured me with their power and mystique. I was just a few chapters into Ink when I felt the mythology’s mystery embracing me with its allure. Because of that, it became impossible for me to stop reading so I let myself fall into its trap. I devoured Ink in three days and it was a phenomenal experience.

Katie and Tomohiro are both wonderful characters. Katie is a brave, independent and motivated girl. She doesn’t give up easily and would really fight for what she wants. On the other hand, Tomohiro is a tough guy. Yet beneath his tough exterior is a caring and loving person. He’s a gifted artist and a good cook! Isn’t that awesome? Katie is lucky to have a boyfriend like him. If Katie wouldn’t mind, I’d like to borrow Tomohiro for a day and ask him to cook for me. Haha! Readers will undoubtedly swoon over their relationship. At first, Tomohiro was a jerk towards Katie and of course, the girl hated it. Tomohiro was an enigma, a puzzle that Katie wanted to solve. So she followed him everywhere he went until she got answers to questions swimming inside her head. As Katie and Tomohiro learned more about one another and uncovered their secrets, they fell in love. Their falling in love was kind of fast but it was so sweet and adorable. 🙂

The last five sentences of Ink gave me chills and left me hanging. I could not stop thinking about the story even after I finished reading it. I’m so eager to find out what happens next but of course, I have to wait until next year for that.

Ink is a spectacular, one-of-a-kind debut novel that displays beauty and truth in the heart of a mystical world. Truly, a beautiful masterpiece.

Rating:

5/5 stars