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Tattoos once were an act of rebellion.

Now they decide your destiny the moment the magical Ink settles under your skin.

And in a world where Ink controls your fate, Caenum can't escape soon enough. He is ready to run from his family, and his best friend Dreya, and the home he has known, just to have a chance at a choice.

But when he upsets the very Scribe scheduled to give him his Ink on his eighteenth birthday, he unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that sends the corrupt, magic-fearing government, The Citadel, after him and those he loves.

Now Caenum, Dreya, and their reluctant companion Kenzi must find their way to the Sanctuary, a secret town where those with the gift of magic are safe. Along the way, they learn the truth behind Ink, its dark origins, and why they are the only ones who can stop the Citadel.

Eric Smith takes you on a high-octane fantasy adventure, perfect for anyone who has dreamed of being different… only to discover that fate is more than skin deep.

250 pages, ebook

First published January 20, 2015

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About the author

Eric Smith

20 books864 followers
Eric Smith is a Young Adult author and literary agent living in Philadelphia.

His next book, Jagged Little Pill: The Novel, a collaboration with Alanis Morissette, Diablo Cody, and Glen Ballard, will be published with Abrams in April 2022. It’s an adaptation of the Grammy and Tony award winning musical.

His latest books include You Can Go Your Own Way (Inkyard Press) and the acclaimed anthology Battle of the Bands (Candlewick), co-edited with award-winning author Lauren Gibaldi. It’s currently being adapted for film by Playground Entertainment.

His novel Don’t Read the Comments was a YALSA 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults selection. The paperback is out now.

He has short stories and essays in the anthologies Color Outside the Lines by Sangu Mandanna (Soho Teen), Body Talk by Kelly Jensen (Algonquin), Allies by Dana Alison Levy and Shakirah Bourne (DK), All Signs Point to Yes by Candice Montgomery, cara davis-araux, and Adrianne Russell (Inkyard), and Adoptee to Adoptee by Nicole Chung and Shannon Gibney (Harper).

His other books include the IndieBound bestseller The Geek’s Guide to Dating (Quirk), Inked (Bloomsbury), the anthology Welcome Home (Flux), and contemporary fantasy novel The Girl and the Grove (Flux).

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5 stars
74 (16%)
4 stars
146 (31%)
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146 (31%)
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67 (14%)
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29 (6%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 157 reviews
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews176k followers
February 6, 2015
This was a fun little read! I loved the characters and the adventure that they found themselves on. There were heartbreaking moments and then there were down right hilarious moments. I would've liked the world to have been fleshed out a bit more, but it was still interesting and I loved the idea behind the tattoos and how they move. All in all, I enjoyed it. It left me wanting more from the world!
Profile Image for Steph Sinclair.
461 reviews11.1k followers
January 13, 2015
I'm not entirely sure about a rating yet. I liked it, but didn't love it.

I think this would be a great read for younger readers or those who are not huge fantasy readers. The world building is simple and enough to give the reader a feel for the fantasy world without confusion. However, I couldn't help but crave more from it. I'm not sure if this was the book or if it's just the fact that I read it while I've been listening to the Outlander series, where Diana is famous for taking 300 pages to describe a blade of grass. Hard to say. I'll come back to this review later.
Profile Image for Carmen Blankenship.
160 reviews52 followers
February 10, 2015
I started reading Inked on a Saturday morning at 5:00am and didn't stop until it was over. I loved this book and had a blast reading it. There were similarities in concept with tattoos and the House of Night series but that's where the comparisons end.

Ill admit the beginning half of the book was better than the second but all in all I enjoyed this Unique world where Scribes decide your future once your 18. This is done by tattoos that are actually moving and evolving works of art that will determine how you will make your living, that is if you cooperate.

I won't give away the whole story because but will recommend you give it a shot.
Profile Image for Erin.
1,176 reviews
January 2, 2015
I liked the idea of the book. But unfortunately that was about it. While the story was decent and I didn't mind where the story was heading towards, however it was the lack of connection with the book and with the characters that ruined my enjoyment with this title so that made me feel bored with the rest of the book. I guess overall it just wasn't my cup of tea.
Profile Image for Abbie.
1,526 reviews
December 30, 2014
When I saw the cover of this book I automatically said, I want it!

And although I made the mistake of thinking this was a children's book because of the style of writing and tone of the book, I found myself enjoying every second I read this.

This book centers on a world where tattoos hold great magic that controls the destiny of it's bearer. Ink is alive, it can suppress your natural abilities and weaken you but it can also give you power beyond your wildest dreams.

Caenum, our leading man, is scheduled to be Inked to mark him as a citizen in society dedicated to serving others as the Ink dictates him to be. But like all adventures, things go on a treacherous slope for him when he decides to help Kenzi, a Scribe with extraordinary gifts and risk the lives of everyone he loves.

Well hotdiggity dog! I must say that although some elements of the tale were predictable, I loved the action, the character development, and the romance. I was a bit disappointed by the climactic scene because I feel as though it could have been better. But all in all this was a well-written book that I would recommend to everyone willing to give it a try.

*Thanks to NetGalley!*
Profile Image for Amanda.
619 reviews430 followers
June 14, 2016
I received a free ebook of this to review... quite a while ago. I jut recently remembered I had it so figured I should read it! The premise was interesting and seemed original enough after reading it. It did bug me that the characters did not seem much in control of where they ended up - no matter how hard they tried to get to where they wanted to go, something always came and took them...to where they wanted to go anyways. Finally at the end they seem to make a choice that actually works out because of themselves. I suppose it might make sense given that the ink "controls" society, but for storytelling purposes it didn't really work or seemed too easy.
I also noticed quite a lot of grammatical or punctuation errors, or even just the wrong word ("taught" instead of "taut" when referring to skin pulled tight). I don't know if it's from the author's original file or if it happened in the creation of the ebook - maybe the official Kindle edition has been updated and fixed since it came out?

Overall, it was a quick read, interesting concept. My favorite character was the main girl, though there were not a ton of females in this book compared to males.
Profile Image for Debby.
589 reviews538 followers
April 18, 2021
3 stars

It's no big secret that I adore Eric Smith, who is not only awesome for all the work he does at Quirk Books, but also just an awesome social media personality (keep those puppy pics coming plzkthnx never change), and I personally greatly enjoyed his non-fiction book, The Geek's Guide to Dating. So, when his YA fantasy debut was announced, it was pretty much a given that I would read it. Inked is fun and an imaginative visual experience, though it may sway to the younger end of YA.

Inked takes place in a world where as people come of age, they receive magical ink tattoos. These tattoos show them their profession or destiny: Dreya has flowers, telling her she's meant to grow and sell flowers. Caenum is about to come of age but has his doubts about getting Inked. He doesn't know what he wants to do, and now some magical ink is just going to determine it for him? Soon, it becomes apparent that there is magic and mystery in this world that has been kept hidden for ages.

I absolutely loved the visual aspect with these tattoos. The first section was a super engrossing experience in that sense, because those scenes were just so vivid in my mind. I could see colors and designs and imagine how lovely the whole setting would look. The mystery of where these tattoos came from kept me turning the pages, and I found myself sympathizing with Caenum's fears of having his life predetermined by some magical thing that he doesn't really understand. Right at the start, I also thought Caenum and Dreya were super cute. They're clearly GREAT FRIENDS even though there are some romantic feelings bubbling under the surface. I very quickly found myself rooting for them. They're super sweet, especially when they have this little POUNCE scene that seemed straight out of The Lion King, as Christina aptly pointed out.

But after a strong opening, my love for the book derailed a bit. The romance was cute but clearly writing romance was not Eric's forte. He didn't spend too much time on it though, so I could easily brush it off. The characters themselves seemed a bit underdeveloped. I particularly couldn't get my head around Kenzi, who seems cunning and smarmy one second, and then frightened and nervous the next. It kind of makes sense because of his character arc, but it came off as very inconsistent. The writing was fluid and vivid though, so I kept reading, particularly keen to learn more about this world and its magic.

Ultimately, where I think Inked let me down is that it feels very rushed and underdeveloped. But this is often the case with standalone fantasy novels. There's a reason why fantasies are usually extensive series of chunky monstrous books: world building, plot development, and character development take a lot of time - and all of those things are necessary for me to really care a lot about a fantasy. I think the first half of this book was really strong in that sense - I was sucked into Caenum's discovery of his powers, his growing feelings for Dreya, and the conspiracy-like aspect of the government controlling people with these tattoos. But, around the midway point that was all just... done. They got to a relatively safe place, Caenum and Dreya were an established couple, and though the gears of mystery and conspiracy were still turning, Caenum kind of checked out of that. Explanations of where magic comes from and how their society works were just told to the reader, because I suppose there wasn't enough room to offer more organic/shocking discovery scenes. Then there was a really brief battle that should have been really thrilling and exciting, but I was kind of confused at its sudden appearance and its declared importance. Twists about certain sketchy characters also didn't surprise me and then... it was over.

This all doesn't necessarily make this a bad novel, because I certainly still enjoyed it, but it makes me think it would probably do better on the younger side of YA readers. Those that are used to YA high fantasies will expect more development, more achingly beautiful romance, and a stronger plot. But for those transitioning to YA novels or taking a first foray into fantasy, this might well be a hit. Definitely all throughout reading it, I thought this would make an awesome Studio Ghibli movie or something because of the visual beauty of those tattoos and all the elemental magic.

Summing Up:

Inked by Eric Smith is a great fantasy novel for newcomers to the genre or younger YA readers. It won't be my favorite, and yes, it lacked a bit of development on all counts for me to really write home about it, but it was a great visual experience written in a very fluid style that is easily accessible to all. An entertaining quick read!

GIF it to me straight!

Recommended To:

Younger YA readers, or first-time fantasy readers.

*An electronic review copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the contents of the review.
Profile Image for Kara.
42 reviews5 followers
December 23, 2014
Review originally posted @ www.whatkarareads.com

*Please note I received a free copy of Inked from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

There is just one word that I can think to start this review: WOW.

In college, a creative writing professor of mine gave me a good nugget of wisdom. She told me when it comes to writing, you either have it or you don’t. By it, she was, of course, referring to talent. Anyone can be a writer, but not everyone is good at it. Let me tell you…Eric Smith has it!

It’s been quite some time since I’ve read something that was entirely original, and Inked is just that. In what feels like an oversaturated YA market full of vampires, witches, apocalypses, and dystopian worlds, Inked provides a breath of fresh air to the YA genre that hasn’t been seen by this reader in quite some time. I couldn’t put this book down once it grabbed me by the hand and yelled, “run!”

It isn’t long into the beginning of Inked that we take off running with our main characters on an action packed adventure to create change in a world where the Citadel demands all their citizens get tattooed with magic ink, which decides their role in society, when they come of age. Our main character, naturally, is nervous as his inking approaches and his plan to rebel against the system and run away becomes a reality when a Conduit bursts onto the scene and they flee for their lives. Never one to spoil the fun of a good plot (and it is!), you’ll just have to read the novel to find out what happens!

The pacing is quick and spot on, never leaving you in a lull, thinking, “good lord will something please happen?” The plot is absolutely unique and exciting, and the characters are believable yet vague enough that anyone can relate to them. While this novel is wrapped up well enough to be a one-shot, I truly hope Mr. Smith continues writing novels in this world. I hope with all my heart that Inked explodes onto the scene and captures readers the way it enthralled me. Inked is definitely a 2015 MUST READ and a great way to kick of a brand new year of amazing books.
Profile Image for Keeley .
510 reviews12 followers
February 12, 2015
Caenum is on the run. He will be turning 18 in a few days and as a result will receive his Ink. Most people are excited to receive their Ink, but not Caenum. He is afraid the Ink will be wrong and his life will be ruined.

After confronting one of the Scribes that has come to town to provide Ink for all those coming of age, everything turns upside down. His family, friends, and hometown will never be the same and it all ties back to Caenum.

Somehow Caenum is now in charge of escorting the Scribe who he punched to a safe land before the guards from the Citadel get ahold of them both. Join Caenum, his best friend Dreya, and Kenzi the Scribe as they uncover the magic within themselves and fight to save everything they live for.

This is the new YA fantasy novel from the awesome Eric Smith from Quirk Books. I received an e-ARC for review from NetGalley and devoured this book in less than two days.

I rated this novel a 4/5 for a few reasons. One being that the story was awesome. Also I really enjoyed the world building, was easily engaged in the story, and felt connected to the characters.

However, I did have some minor (albeit nit-picky) problems with the story. For one, one of the main plot points was somewhat cliche. I predicted it would happen from the get-go and unfortunately it did. Also, some of the dialogue seemed more like a Disney movie than anything else.

BUT! I loved it regardless. Even though it was predictable and the dialogue seemed cheesy at times, I needed to know what would happen next and could easily see this becoming a kickass YA fantasy series.

Eric Smith's world building was incredibly enjoyable and he developed one of my favorite characters that I've read about so far in 2014, Tabor. I highly recommend that anyone that is a fan of fantasy novels or magic should pick this up. This book will be released in January of 2015 and I'm absolutely putting in on my To-Buy list :)

Profile Image for Paul Decker.
707 reviews21 followers
January 21, 2015
*I received this book from Bloomsbury USA Children's Books as an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

The imagery in this book is so cool. People are given tattoos when they turn a certain age. These tattoos determine their profession. If that isn't cool enough, the tattoos aren't just any old normal tattoos. They move. They glide across the skin and contort to the person's emotions, movements, or different things like that.

The main character is hesitantly about to get his tattoos when something goes wrong. The tattoos may be more nefarious than they seem.

I really enjoyed the concepts in this story. In addition to the tattoos, there are also people called Conduits who have special powers, think Avatar or X-Men. Smith utilizes these powers in some pretty interesting ways.

There is one thing that reminded me of The Dark Crystal with the skekSis drawing life force from the Gelfings.

Although I found the beginning very interesting, as the book progressed the story began to follow a predictable path. I also thought the protagonist was dull. I enjoyed some of the more minor characters more.

I could see this first book being the first arc or first season in either a comic or tv series. The visuals of this story would be captivating.

Overall I found this book entertaining with very cool concepts, but with a story that didn't quite have me on the edge of my seat. I give this a 3.75/5, just short of a 4. If you like fantasy coming of age stories with X-men like powers, you will enjoy this.
Profile Image for Alyanna.
81 reviews
Want to read
December 10, 2014
When I added this to my shelf months ago, there wasn't a book cover, yet. And now there is! AND IT'S SO PRETTY. SOOO PRETTY THAT I CAN'T HELP MYSELF FROM STARING AT IT ALL DAY.


(ME) waiting for INKED be like:


Profile Image for Brooke.
956 reviews188 followers
July 15, 2023
Almost 50% in and I just can't do it. I tried, I really did. But the writing is sub par (tell, tell , tell, where's the showing?), as is the editing. And the story is boring for me. No rating or review.
Profile Image for Nicole.
321 reviews30 followers
January 25, 2015
Caenum is scared about his fate. When one turns 18, one will get inked. Dreya, his neighbor and his best friend, is already inked and is happy with her fate. Everyone tells Caenum not to worry about the Inking. When Caenum meets Kenzi, he thought it was odd that Kenzi's skin was bare. Kenzi is an apprentice scribe. When a Scribe comes of age, the Scribe performs his or her first Inking. However, the Scribe also gets Inked that same day. Something goes wrong with Kenzi's Inking and Caenum's grandmother knows the reason why. Kenzi is a Conduit.

The Citadel hunts Conduits because of their inherent magic is dangerous when they get inked. Molivar and the rest of the people of the Frosthaven believe that Kenzi is Unprinted and is wreaking havoc in the town.

Caenum volunteers to take Kenzi to the Conduit Sanctuary instead of his grandmother going. There are so many feels for what Caenum is going through with his grandmother and Dreya. And so many feels for what Dreya has to go through. I was literally seating on the edge of my seat almost in tears. When Caenum thinks he has lost all of his family, he uncovers a familiar face. I am so glad Caenum reunites with his only family he has left but there are secrets that are yet to be unveiled. This familiar person is not the same as who Caenum remembers from the past.

Dreya is the Hermione of the group. She knows about Caenum's grandmother's hints about the Sanctuary and the secret ingredient of Pepper Thistle in Caenum's grandmother's stew. She is very logical throughout the whole novel. When Caenum, Kenzi and Dreya are traveling to find the Sanctuary, it reminds me how Harry, Ron and Hermione are searching for the horcruxes. When Trackers Vikash and Tabor find the trio in Inked, it reminds me how the Snatchers found the Harry Potter trio in the Forbidden Forest. Both trios have magical abilities as well.

It's crazy how being inked is so important to the Citadel. It provides control over the masses. It provides order and it crushes dreams. The Citadel shuns the Unprinted like how the Factionless were shunned in Divergent. Conduits are treated like those who are Divergent. Both societies in both books fear those who are different. The origins of the ink for the Inking is shocking. I did not see that coming at all.

I love how Inked is reminiscent of Divergent and Harry Potter series. However, the novel is beautifully written and Eric Smith makes it his own. Smith is an amazing writer. I was drawn into the book from the first paragraph. Smith has a way with words. All the words flowed smoothly and there is enough dialogue and enough action to keep the book moving at a good pace. Smith describes everything in Inked with such detail. I love the book so much I wish Inked is part of a series! Seriously, it's that good! And the cover is absolutely stunning! I highly recommend Inked to anyone who loves a good fantasy read. Pre-order your copy now if you haven't!

Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC from the publisher on Netgalley.
Profile Image for Kurt Dinan.
Author 15 books185 followers
January 4, 2016
See, this is a YA fantasy novel I can get behind. It has a hero you care about, real stakes, excellent world building, and moves at just the right clip. Not to disparage other novels, but there seems to be a formula a lot of fantasy novels follow, something I think Smith recognizes as well. Fortunately, Smith turns a lot of your expectations on their ear, making unexpected (and welcome) choices that keep this novel fresh. What more can you ask for? I loved the concept of "Inking" and want more of Caenum's story, as he's a character I can get behind. I finished this in two days, which for me is quite an accomplishment due to my busy life, but should be a indicator of just how invested I was in this world. It's going on my classroom shelf soon, and I know the students are going to devour it. Book #2, please!
Profile Image for Sheila G.
506 reviews96 followers
May 10, 2017
Ink was like that. Always suggesting and nudging, always spot on. Which is exactly why it scared me. I wanted to know myself first.

Caenum is about to turn eighteen---it is the birthday he has dreaded for years. When he turns eighteen, he will be inked. The Ink will decide who he is to become, not taking into account any thoughts that may counter what it tells him. Plotting to flee before the Scribes come to deliver his future, Caenum finds himself in a debacle when a run-in with a Scribe takes an unexpected turn.

He finds himself fleeing his home with his life-long friend Dreya, and new acquaintance, Kenzi, who just so happens to be the very Scribe commissioned to ink Caenum. Escaping an attack on his town, they set out to find the Sanctuary, a place safe from the Citadel for wielders of magic. On the journey, loved ones are lost, friends are made, enemies are everywhere, and secrets revealed.


My thoughts are a scrambled mess on this one. It's taken me a few hours of on and off writing to complete this review, and I'm hoping it will even be reflective of my thoughts. I don't have much to say, so let's get on with it. Note: I tried to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, but there may be hints throughout this review that I found necessary to discuss in order to properly review the book.

Things that I liked:

#1 The overall idea was engaging in and of itself. Tattoos infused with a bit of magic to reveal your identity sounded pretty neat, albeit scary. Just as Ceanum feared the ink, I believe I would too if I felt that I hadn't discovered my own true nature before something told me what it was. What if I didn't like what I heard? Stripping the option of choice from anyone is scary.

#2 This story started out running...literally. We open to the first page where Caenum is planning to run away before his inking day. His fear was compelling, and made me want to know more about what this process was all about.

#3 A few delightful twists were embedded here and there, making the story more complex than I originally thought.

Despite the unexpected turns, I felt that there still just wasn't enough to satiate my desire for a more completed story; which leads me to...

Things that I didn't like:

#1 The world building.

I felt like I was reading the story, looking from the outside in. Rather than being invited into the story, something held me back. Whether it was just an overall lack of world building (I don't remember there even being a name of the world mentioned,) or misunderstanding as to the societal setup, I didn't feel as though I could be part of the story. It wasn't really something that I could deem as a possibility---which, if you ask me, is the number one goal of the fantasy genre: believing that something could be real.
"The Citadel tries to force people into roles, into walks of life. Gives them assignments based on what they are born with."

We get small glimpses into the doctrine of the Citadel. However, little explanation is given as to how the entire system of this world came into being. I found myself often wondering where the backstory was.

#2 Part of the way through the book, I was excited because I thought we finally had a normal and ordinary main character. However, I was wrong. This is more my personal preference. It didn't necessarily take away from the story, but I think I would have liked it better if someone had remained unaffected.

#3 Character Breakdown:

Caenum was supposed to be turning eighteen. But his voice and thoughts were from someone of a much younger age. Especially when discussing his "friendship" with Dreya, and his unsuspecting musings regarding their relationship.

#3.5 Ceanum's name. How is it pronounced? I found myself saying it "Che-a-num," as in Latin with the e-a next to each other. Since it's written in English, maybe it's supposed to be pronounced "See-num?" I'm honestly not sure.

The other two prominent characters, Dreya and Kenzi, had very little influence on me, whatsoever. I don't have anything to say on them, only that I wish their character development had been more prominent.

#4 That this novel tried to be a bit dystopian: depicted in the first quote (above,) the book itself stated that the ink was always spot on when deciding what that person would be doing. If the ink was consistently accurate with a person's abilities and character, then wouldn't everyone be happy with their wares? Wouldn't the ink choose what was most suitable for each individual, ultimately leading to contentment? I simply didn't find there being enough justification for this world to exist in the way that it did.

#5 Adventure-less: When the trio left their hometown to seek out the Sanctuary was when the pace of the story dropped. An adventure should be exciting, exhilarating, and increase the pacing dramatically. The pace did eventually pick up towards the end (as to be expected.)

Much of the story for me was simply unremarkable. I wish that there was more development behind the structure of the world, the characters, and the antagonizing forces against those that were gifted.

I feel:

Vulgarity: Moderate, and more towards the end.
Sexual content: Only a small amount.
Violence: Some, but without gory detail.

2 stars.

This review can also be viewed on my blog: She's Going Book Crazy
Profile Image for Onka.
326 reviews39 followers
June 16, 2017
I actually quite enjoyed this one! I love the whole Ink-concept, and everything it stands for. It’s action-packed and there’s always something happening so I never really got a chance to get bored.
But I wish it was a little bit longer. I would love to learn more about the world and more pages would give characters time to grow (the lack of character development is probably my biggest issue with this book). This way the story just felt too rushed and confusing at times.
But other than that I can’t really complain – I loved the world, the pacing, the writing and I would love to read more!
Profile Image for Kirtida Gautam.
Author 2 books125 followers
December 11, 2016
I am from India. Till very recent past, not more than 50 years ago, India lived under a social system where a person's CASTE would be decided with his/her birth, and the person was forced to live out the part.
Therefore Eric Smith's adventure novel Inked resonated a lot with me.
Caenum is an adorable protagonist. Strikingly simple.
But what I liked the most about the novel is, the visualness of the language. Eric has a knack for creating vivid mental images.
Overall, a very interesting read. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Denise.
383 reviews3 followers
January 15, 2015
This modern day fairy tale is magnificent! Young people will totally be able to identify with Caenum, Dreya and Kenzi and be caught up in their adventurous nightmare of a reality!
Profile Image for Dark Faerie Tales.
2,274 reviews547 followers
July 9, 2015
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: Inked was not my kind of dystopian read. It was unrealistic and lacked the crucial connection between the reader and the characters.

Opening Sentence: Three days.
My thin leather shoes slapped softly against the dirt leading away from grandmother’s cottage as I made my way across our stretch of farmland located at the edge of Frosthaven.

The Review:

Another dystopian story but regrettably, not a very good one.

Inked contained elements of the Insurgent series by Veronica Roth. In Insurgent, individuals are shown a simulation that encourages them to choose a faction, which essentially defines how they spend the rest of their lives. Simiarly, in Inked, the ink is used to determine each person’s fate, with the government having the ultimate control of everyone’s ambitions.

The story is told from Caenum’s perspective and I felt sorry for him when his world turns upside down following the entrance of the scribes for his inking but I couldn’t connect with his character or the story. I couldn’t understand how he was planning to leave his grandmother and Dreya when he claimed to love them both so much and they were the only family he had just because he was scared of being inked. Actually, I take that back. I understood him leaving, I just couldn’t take him seriously.

Caenum and Dreya’s almost-romance would have been cute if there was anything remotely romantic involved. Instead there were assumptions of being each other’s soul mates without admitting it out loud, which was really weird.

“Rausch,” I started, trying not to look too pathetic.
He noticed immediately.
“What is it with you people and these sad good-byes?” he scoffed. “Go fight the good fight, and make your way back to this one. And yes, I promise to marry her if anything happens to you, as we agreed.” He winked and reached between the bars of the gate to give me a nudge.

I liked Kenzie’s character though, he seemed crazy enough to be real and apart from that I can’t think of much else I enjoyed about this book. There was a lot of taboo first about not getting inked, then about those that were inked, it was rather silly really. If it is a series, it’s not one I will spend my time reading.

Notable Scene:

“The Citadel tries to force people into roles, into walks of life. Gives them assignments based on what they are born with,” Dreya said, as Ryst knelt down and gingerly touched the vines that wrapped around Rausch’s body. “But leaders aren’t born. They are made. All of your confusion, all those questions, they brought you here. According to the Citadel, you might have been born to work the land. But according to the fate you’ve made for yourself, you were meant to save it.”

FTC Advisory: Bloomsbury Spark provided me with a copy of Inked. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
Profile Image for Adriana B.
164 reviews23 followers
March 16, 2015
This book was absolutely amazing! I loved it! (and am REALLLLLLLLLLLY hoping there is a book two one day.) The first couple chapters I was unsure about where this was going story wise but was really enjoying it but then after those first couple chapters (and the end of interruptions at that very moment when I was trying to read) I was suddenly pulled into this awesome, action packed adventure! and I loved it! I absolutely loved the setting too! It felt like I was standing there amidst everything. I was whisked away to another world for sure! As every chapter went on I fell more and more in love with the characters and the story. Even better some of the characters had super powers! Eep! *jumps up and down in excitement* I mean, it doesn’t get much better than that!…Though, there was one point in the story where I MIGHT have become jealous of this characters powers…I was basically sitting there reading and being like: Hello Character? Yes, yes you. Can you just give me your powers please?

If I had powers, man. It would be all sorts of awesomeness…. *cough cough* Anyways…back to what I was saying.

This book was absolutely amazing and gave me all sorts of feels. Shipping feels, sadness feels…Feels all over the place! The characters were totally awesome and I loved them a lot!

Caenum was a really great character! (being the POV character that is good! :P) I liked his personality and his protective-ness of Dreya just about killed me every single time! It was just so sweet and adorable and- *shipping feels*

With that said, I really liked Dreya’s character as well. She was quite a sweet little thing but most definitely tough and could take care of herself without anyone’s assistance.

I am not going to lie though that Kenzi was my absolute favorite of the bunch though. A little stubborn at times and doesn’t seem to take orders all that well, Kenzi was an interesting addition to the little trio that consisted of himself, Caenum and Dreya. To be honest it seems like Kenzi always brought trouble with him wherever he went. (But that’s the fun of it, right?)…I don’t know if its just me but I found him to be a bit quirky too.

One thing I didn’t like (probably a minor thing in most peoples eyes and shouldn’t hinder you from reading the book! …That would be bad. Don’t not read the book cause of this little note!) was the language in the book. There wasn’t much of it but language in books just isn’t my favorite. So yeah, just a quick little note there…..
Profile Image for Denise Hallauer.
336 reviews41 followers
January 21, 2015
Review can be found on my blog

I enjoyed this book, it's an interesting story, and an interesting idea. I had some small issues with it, but overall it's a really good book. To me in many parts it felt like the book was a little under-developed. I would have liked to know more about the Citadel, how they came to be, why they started forcing the inking (just to control them?), etc. Also in the story it's not mentioned how old they are when they get the inking, it's mentioned in the synopsis but that's not something I remembered when I started the book and would have been nice to have mentioned. I feel like we learned more about the resistance than we did about the evil corrupt government. I wasn't as invested in the conflict as I could have been, sure they're bad and needed to be taken down, but I didn't have that 'I HATE THEM FYEAH TAKE THEM DOWN' moments that I wish I had.

Dreya is my absolute favorite character in the book, she's the most solid character, she's kind, intelligent, and funny. Caenum bothered me a lot. I did keep in mind all of the things that he was going through and his age, and yes I realize he recently suffered a loss and was mourning, however, suck it up buttercup. You're in a resistance fighting an evil government. You don't have the luxury of days/weeks of mourning/pouting/being a spoiled brat. I was really disappointed in him that he didn't bother learning anything to do with his magic when he knew it was important that he do so. I was disappointed that Dreya didn't either and actually enabled his slacking, instead of pushing him to do and be better, and doing the same for herself. Kenzi is an interesting character, I don't want to say much about him, I want you to see him for yourself but definitely interesting.

Overall Inked is an interesting and enjoyable young adult fantasy.

I received an ARC of this book from Bloomsbury on Netgalley. This in no way affected my review.
Profile Image for Cassie.
304 reviews77 followers
February 4, 2015
Initial Review
Probably more of a 2.5.

Well, that was ridiculous. Thank goodness it was short.

Almost Full review

For full review (including live-tweets from while I was reading) click here.

The Short Version:

First things first: everyone ignore the synopsis. It doesn't mean anything.

Second, I did not like this book. This book made me angry. Of all 191 pages, I think I enjoyed 15 of them all up.


The Long Version:

I mean, it could have been so awesome. But I think the majority of my problems with this book stem from the basic lack of an obvious plot. I mean, I was at page 100, and the story still felt like it was just starting.

We also missed a lot of stuff. I mean, at the beginning, they were walking for days, and it just got skipped over like it was nothing.

I tell you, it made connecting with the characters very difficult.

It also didn't help that everything just felt so...random. I mean, I've read books where the characters don't know what they're doing before, but there was something about this that felt ridiculous.

And I'm just going to stop there.

In Conclusion:

Basically, I did not like this book. And that's all there really is to say.

I must say, though. I am actually curious: did anyone like this book? I've seen some 5 star ratings on goodreads, and if you liked it I would legitimately like to know why.

Not in a mean way, or anything. I'm just curious...seeing as different people often have different opinions.
Profile Image for Orie at Let's Take A Shelfie.
46 reviews10 followers
February 23, 2015
In a fictional world ruled by the Citadel, it is made mandatory that all inhabitants of the realm be inked when they come of age. The inking identifies each citizen's destiny by marking them with symbols associated with their intended occupation. The story begins with Caenum, three days away from his inking, who is gathering his belongings as he prepares to runaway. Caenum believes people should get to choose their destiny and not have to follow what the ink tells him. His plans to run away are postponed when he's startled by Dreya, his childhood friend and love interest.

Soon after Caenum's runaway plans are foiled, he encounters Kenzi, who they discover is a Conduit. A person with magical powers. Caenum's grandmother fears what will happen to Kenzi and volunteers to take him to the Sanctuary. Caenum cannot let this happen and takes his grandmother's place. The story then follows Kenzi and Caenum on their journey where they encounter the Unprinted, citizens who have refused to be inked, and other unexpected characters.

This is a great book that can be a standalone novel. However, I do hope that the author, Eric Smith, decides to continue the story. I'd recommend this book to anyone that's looking for a quick and intriguing read or to YA fiction readers who are looking for a fresh and unique story with characters they can easily relate to.

My full review can be found on my blog: http://goo.gl/FZwAOh

*I received a complimentary copy of Inked from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Morris.
964 reviews164 followers
February 3, 2015
Judging from the summary and the cover, I had really high hopes for the tale of magical tattoos and the main character, Caenum. Unfortunately, “Inked” is a prime example of not being able to judge a book by its cover.

The story started in a promising way, introducing the familiar themes of becoming an adult and being afraid of what the world may hold for you. The descriptions of how the magic tattoos looked and moved were intriguing and very well-done. The world building, while not the best I have read, was sufficient to give the reader a decent idea of what Caenum is encountering.

The beginning of the plot resembles a fairy tale, but by the halfway mark it begins to go off of the rails. The plot tries to fit too much in, and given the short length of the book, it detracts from the simple, linear plot that would have been much more readable and enjoyable. By the end, you have more questions than answers, and there are characters who never became fleshed out enough to make the story reach a satisfactory conclusion. In fact, it seems as though it is meant to be a series, yet ends as though the story has reached its conclusion.

The reason I have given “Inked” three stars, as opposed to two, is that in spite of all of its problems I believe it will hold the attention of children in the age range of 10-12. It’s relatively clean and does, at least, hold a quick pace. Unless you fall in that age group, I do not recommend this book.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Emily WilowRaven.
211 reviews21 followers
November 11, 2015
Review posted at Red House Books

I really enjoyed Inked.

I'm a big fan of a this specific type of fantasy story. You know, a small specific story about a tiny piece of a much bigger world. A world with it's own set of rules that folks have to work their way through. A set of characters that are thrown together against a common enemy. Magic! Magic (almost) everywhere!

THAT type of story! That's what this is and it was pretty great.

Reminded me of The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab -- it had the same type of magical, fantasy awesomeness about it.

And, brace yourselves!


Not that I don't love a good series. But sometimes, I prefer to take a smaller bite. And Inked tasted great!


Any who!

If you like YA fantasy / magic / realistic characters with personality and lives you care about -- read this book!


While you're at it -- keep an eye on Eric Smith. He has a real passion for (really good) YA fiction and it totally shows in his writing.

Catch a ride on the Tardis the next time it passes through your town (what? that doesn't happen to you?) and add all Eric's future books to your wishlists...in the future...so you won't have to do it later... (don't look at me like that - it totes makes sense!).

Bottom line? -- READ THIS BOOK
Profile Image for Nate Philbrick.
Author 8 books107 followers
December 9, 2015
Inked starts on a pretty high note. For the first third of the book, I liked the characters, connected well with them, and was excited about where the story was headed. The last two thirds, to be frank, are disappointing. I feel like Smith built a lot of good potential but only delivered tropes and shallow story-telling as payoff.

What had me hooked since page one was the relationship (or hints at one) between the protagonist, Caenum, and his friend Dreya. When the story lost its appeal towards the second half, I kept reading in the hopes of seeing their relationship developed to its full potential. I was disappointed. Smith could have delivered two very satisfying character arcs in Caenum and Dreya. Instead, the characters beat around the bush and end up pretty much the same as they were in the first chapter.

On a more technical aspect, the beginning (again, the first third) was polished and professionally presented. About halfway through, it was as if the editor didn't quite care as much. There are a handful of noticeable typos, and the writing follows repetitive patterns and weak structures. All those elements combined were pretty distracting.

I really wanted to like this book, and to some degree I do. I chose to finish it, and that at least says something about it. But even though I was hyped for a 4-5 star review at first, the second half of the story dug itself into a disappointing hole
Profile Image for Loli.
22 reviews11 followers
February 13, 2015
Not bad! Not bad at all, I mean tattoos that react to your emotions and to your environment and basically control your life and place in society, how awesome is that for a plot point? The magic is super interesting and original in many ways, action packed scenes are really well described and I could actually visualize what the author described. My problem with that book is that I wanted to know more about the world the character's lived in, description of how it worked etc, because I sometimes ended up confused at several points during the characters' movements, but again I wasn't in the right mind for reading this sometimes so my opinion might be biased. I would have preferred slower paced events with more description because everything felt like it happened too fast, same thing for the characters, for whom I sometimes didn't feel as attached to as I would have liked because I thought they lacked personality description, especially Kenzi. If you are more for a gripping story with an awesome set up that is action packed the whole ride I would definitely suggest you pick up this book, and make up your own mind about it. The idea and concept is really interesting, I am just more for a slower paced, more descriptive story.
Profile Image for Shannelle.
158 reviews78 followers
February 23, 2015
This review was first posted on The Art of Escapism!

I loved the concept for Inked. Magical tattoos! I have no idea about you guys, but magical tattoos rank way up there with unicorns. But you know what's not as awesome as magical tattoos and unicorns? This book, sadly.

The execution of the idea just killed any potential in the concept. Caenum, Dreya, and Kenzi are all irritatingly bratty and juvenile. I didn't feel that they were even 18. I also have a lot of problems with the writing, and the dialogue was poor.

I could have been okay with the first part, but it took a downturn towards the end. Caenum's nervous about his Inking, and it all gets even worse when he upsets a Scribe. After that, though, is where the plot picks up. But somewhere in the middle, it just turns into a mess of poor writing and terrible plot. By that point, everything was feeling like a cliche kids fantasy movie.

I don't even want to think of the book anymore. Long story short, Inked was a huge disappointment, and it could have been so much better if handled a little differently.
Profile Image for Angela Cramer.
183 reviews4 followers
January 16, 2015
***I received an ARC from Bloomsbury USA Children's Books for an honest review. Expected publication date 1/20/15***

Right from the beginning I was excited to read a story where the norm was to have everyone tattooed. Instead of being excited to be Inked, our hero Caenum feared the process. Eric Smith builds a future world where the Citadel controls the ink and the to be Unprinted is to be a curse. Unlike today where ink expresses who you are, the ink of the future decides not only who you are, but what your profession will be.

Caenum, Dreya and Kenzi begin a rocky friendship and we watch as the trials and tribulations solidify that friendship and turns Caenum into a leader. With plot twists and turns that made me go whoa, I felt that the story was rushed to conclude the story. Honestly felt that it would have flowed better if written in two parts and expanded. Saying that, I did enjoy the story from start to finish and believe if I could have living ink that didn’t come from a conduit it would be pretty awesome.
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