After the pain of losing her mother and the huge culture shock moving to Japan to live with her aunt, Katie could be forgiven for suffering from stress and seeing things that aren’t really there; drawings moving, staring at her with blank eyes, or crawling towards her with razor sharp teeth, and ink that pools and oozes like blood. If only Katie could believe it was just stress, but she knows different – this is all somehow linked to Tomohiro Yuu, the good looking senior with amazing artistic skills and a bad attitude. Is he human, or kami – a person with god-like power?
As Katie gets closer to Tomohiro they discover that her being near him causes the ink he uses to act strangely. With her Tomohiro’s power is increasing, and his control is slipping. Soon, Katie isn’t the only one who has discovered what he can do.
Ink had so much potential to be an amazing book, full of monsters and Japanese culture – and whilst it is clear a lot of research has been put into this book, in the end it just doesn’t do enough to break through the typical YA paranormal romance cliches. The setting is very fleshed out (at least to a Westerner who has never visited Japan) and described beautifully, especially the images of the cherry blossoms in bloom. The romance also began rather sweetly – for all its “insta-love” problems, they can be forgiven as they fit with the character of Katie. She is alone in a foreign country, living with an aunt she barely knows, and often struggles with her new life. She has trouble speaking and reading Japanese, she keeps forgetting every-day customs like bowing and when it is acceptable to address someone by their first name, and she is the only white person in her school. For her, falling in love with Tomohiro so fast is about finding someone who also feels like an outsider, and their shared pain over loosing a mother is the beginning of their bond. Throughout the novel we see Katie’s confidence grow until she feels at home in Japan, in a realistic and sweet way.
Unfortunately, the romance soon gets fairly boring, and has practically all the annoying stereotypes of a YA paranormal romance. Insta-love (not even half way through Katie claims she can’t live without him now), not being able to be together because one of them will get hurt, ignoring or dropping friends the moment a guy comes along – these are just a few of the cliches used. The mythology of the Kami was such a unique idea, and the few scenes that depicted Tomohiro’s power (like a dragon coming to life and attacking them) were amazing to read, but they were few and far between, ultimately not enough to save the book. There is also far too much of Katie running around, stalking Tomohiro, and generally being paranoid.
If a standard YA paranormal romance, with a beautifully described setting, is what you are looking for then Ink is perfect – but if, like me, you where hoping for something special and memorable then prepare to be disappointed.
There have always been legends about monsters living in Lake Superior, but no-one really believes them. People still take boats out and swim in the water. For some that will be the last mistake they’ll ever make, for that is where Calder White and his sister live. Their beauty and charm will draw you close as they pull you under until the bubbles stop.
Calder has never fully felt a part of his mermaid family, but he cannot resist their mental connection. He struggles as the killing to survive and yearly migrations to Lake Superior take their toll. This year his sister, Maris, the head of the family, has offered him a deal he can’t refuse: seduce Lily Hancock, and use her to lure her father out into the lake where his sister can kill him. Calder agrees as his desire for revenge on the man responsible for his mother’s death has consumed him for years, but he didn’t expect to come to care for Lily so much. Now he must choose between love and revenge, and fast because his sisters refuse to wait forever.
The mermaids in Lies Beneath are easily the best part of this book: beautiful and chillingly lethal. The murder scenes are exciting and creepy, and the descriptions of their appearance and their journey through the lake is alluring. This was an area that should have been further explored, as the mythology was limited to Calder’s family and his own personal knowledge, and even he confesses that there is much he doesn’t know.
The romance, however, was fairly lacklustre. Before Calder reveals what he is, Lily seems a little too accepting of the very few answers she is given. This is a troupe that has been over-used in Young Adult novels: one character acts very strangely, but the other ignores it because it severs the plot to have them oblivious until the “big reveal” scene. Lily does ask a few questions, but acts in an unrealistically trusting way towards Calder. As characters, both Lily and Calder are non-offensive but slightly dull. Lily seems to be slightly quirky and weird to make her seem more interesting, but it doesn’t really work. There is an almost love-triangle that feels kind of pointless as it dies off fairly quickly.
The ending was a pleasant surprise: it was not the typical neat and happy ending that is often used in Young Adult books. It leaves the story open for further books, where hopefully the idea of the mermaids themselves will be explored in greater detail. Still, the book as a whole was pleasant but bland; it was interesting whilst being read but ultimately fairly forgettable.
After a childhood of indulging his scientific curiosities, Victor Frankenstein has realised his purpose: to create life from death. But despite succeeding, once he lays eye upon the creature his has created Victor knows he has made a grave mistake. He has created a monster, one which torments his soul and preys upon his family. No-one is safe, and now Victor must travel and destroy his work before anyone else is hurt.
Frankenstein is a novel that explores the nature of playing God and questions the limits of science. Through its melodramatic prose and horrific descriptions, it is a masterwork of the Gothic and Horror genres. The idea of an arrogant young man who believes he can defeat death only to have it go terribly wrong is one that has been used many times since this novel’s publication. Victor tries to play God, only to regret his actions and detest his own creation, which in turn causes the Creature to hate him in turn, blaming Victor for his wretched existence. The novel challenges the idea of power between man and God: Victor is the creator thus the Creature believes him to be the cause of his suffering, and the only one able to relieve it, yet the Creature is far superior in strength and ability to survive in the wild. He haunts Victor’s every move, striking down those he loves one by one despite all efforts to stop him; the Creature’s free will gives him power over his God. The Creature also blames his murderous intent on Victor, insisting that he was inherently virtuous before the misery of rejection caused him to seek vengeance, whereas Victor believes him to be monstrous through and through. Mary Shelley questions the nature of mankind: are we born to good, or is this just a human ideal? After all, animals have no sense of evil, just survival. Is Frankenstein’s creature man or beast? As in real life, there are no solid conclusions drawn.
Within this novel’s style it is possible to see the origins of the Gothic genre. Whilst the questions asked are intriguing and it reads well, it is written in an almost painfully melodramatic way. Victor is often found weeping at mere thoughts and worries, whilst his creature laments his fortunes over and over to anyone listening: “When I run over the frightful catalogue of my sins, I cannot believe that I am the same creature whose thoughts were once filled with sublime and transcendent visions of the beauty and the majesty of goodness. But it is even so; the fallen angel becomes a malignant devil. Yet even that enemy of God and man had friends and associates in his desolation; I am alone.1” This reads as awfully heavy-handed, and soon becomes fairly boring.
It is easy to see why Frankenstein is considered a classic: its deep questions into human nature and the tormented journey of both Victor and his creature are fascinating to read. However, it is hindered by the overly dramatic writing style and self-serving soliloquies, which causes the novel to become repetitive.
1 All you need to do is add an “O” to the beginning of this quote and you have yourself a Shakespearian monologue!(less)
Jeremiah Hunt is a man determined for justice when his young daughter, Elizabeth, suddenly disappears. When the police find nothing, he can’t stand idly by and wait for action. He turns to the supernatural and does something drastic… Now Jeremiah is blind, but he can see the souls of the dead. Having given up his marriage and career for this ability, Jeremiah ends up assisting the police with odd cases, in the hopes that one day this will lead him to his daughter. Despite the belief by some that he may have actually killed Elizabeth, he lives a life that isn’t happy, but is at least something – until a series of murders come to light that may or may not be connected to his family.
As an urban fantasy with a male protagonist, it was inevitable that Eyes to See was going to be compared to The Dresden Files, a great series filled with humour, police investigations,, a little romance, and a mixture of fantastical creatures. Whilst both are enjoyable for fairly different reasons, there is not in fact that much similar about these two books. Eyes to See is a much more somber book, with the pain of Elizabeth’s disappearance weighing heavily on Jeremiah, who as a character is lacking Harry Dresden’s easy humour and charm. Also, it only features ghosts – no vampires, werewolves, or faereis here. Despite all this, Eyes to See is a good book, with a great premise and a main character whose suffering is relatable and sympathetic throughout. Though it can feel a little too serious at times, this mood fits with the overall tone. The scene where Jeremiah finally discovers what happened to his daughter and visits his ex-wife was very moving, and probably the best part of the book – it brought a tear to my eyes.
Eyes to See also features other great ideas, like two ghost called Whisper and Scream. These ghost provide Jeremiah with “ghost-sight” and super strength to aid him in his investigations. He also has help from a bar tender with links to the supernatural, Dmitri, and a witch, Denise, who has prophetic dreams about Jeremiah. This relationship with all these people (ghost and human) is slowly built upon, which is realistic considering what Jeremiah has been through, though can become a little frustrating to read. Thought there is no romance, there is a possibility for one to develop between Jeremiah and Denise in the rest of the series. It is however very satisfying to read a book about the supernatural that doesn’t offer a easy solution out of every problem, and leaves Eyes to See nicely open for a sequel.
Overall, I would recommend this book, but only for those in the mood for a quieter, more serious urban fantasy.