Author: Alice Broadway
Publication Date: February 2nd 2017
Every action, every deed, every significant moment is tattooed on your skin for ever. When Leora’s father dies, she is determined to see her father remembered forever. She knows he deserves to have all his tattoos removed and made into a Skin Book to stand as a record of his good life. But when she discovers that his ink has been edited and his book is incomplete, she wonders whether she ever knew him at all.
I’ve always been drawn to tattoos. Maybe it’s because I can’t actually get them myself that the whole concept of permanent inking fascinates me. The way people make choices about what to get in order to tell a story on their skin. Ink took that familiar concept and put a whole new twist on it.
The first in a trilogy, much of this book dealt with world-building. Leora’s world is full of marks. Every significant event is tattooed on your skin whether you like it or not, but you are free to choose other marks to further express who you are. When you die, your skin is flayed and turned into a book so that your story can forever be told. Though it’s slightly disturbing, it’s a nice sentiment, and contrary to belief it suggests that everyone has a story worth telling.
Of course, there are people who don’t live by these principles. ‘Blanks’ have no marks and are therefore condemned; refusing to let others see who you are must mean you have something to hide. But I value my privacy too much so I didn’t necessarily see this as a bad thing. Besides, doesn’t everyone have something to hide?
The world of Ink therefore represents the stark contrast between black and white; good and bad. When Leora’s father dies, the line between the two begins to blur and she is forced to question everything and everyone she has ever known.
The narrative is compelling – folk tales are intertwined to further cement the world and how it came to be. There weren’t many characters as the plot was largely focused on Leora, and though this allowed for her character development it would have been nice to learn more about the others. That being said, I really liked Leora. Despite what society told her, she wanted to be an inker. Anyone who challenges societal norms and gender stereotypes will always win brownie points from me.
Whilst it was an enjoyable read for the most part, I thought it lacked an element of action considering the genre. The main event was the weighing of the soul ceremony, where Leora discovered her father’s fate, and though there was a certain tension as we waited to find out if she was able to change the outcome, it was a little underwhelming for my liking.
I just wanted there to be more conflict. Hopefully, it’s something that’ll be more prominent in the next one as we learn more about the Blanks. That being said, I actually have no idea what the author has in store since the ending didn’t give away much.
Overall, there was a lot to like about this book. It presents a complex and yet understandable world that mirrors ours in many ways. It will not only make you ask questions, but also force you to reconsider whether lines can be drawn between two opposing sides or whether they will be inevitably blurred.