Author: Amanda Sun
Series: Paper Gods (Book #1)
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Purchase: Amazon | Indigo | Barnes & Noble
Summary: On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building. Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they’ll both be targets. Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.
For starters, I love art. It’s been a huge part of me growing up; I come from a family of amazing artists, painters, designers, and just creative people, period. So when I saw this amazing cover and read the synopsis, I was sold instantly.
The story is about Katie, a girl whose life changes after the death of her mother. She moves to Japan to live with her aunt. Completely new to the country, the society, the culture, Katie has a lot of adjusting to do. She starts her new life at a new school and meets a boy named Tomohiro. He’s cold and distant, and extremely secretive. Later on she discovers that he’s a talented artist whos drawings can move. His ability is connected to the ancient gods (kami). Despite all of his efforts to keep his distance, the two get closer. But Tomo is in danger — he can’t control his drawings when he’s around Katie. And as if that’s not enough, he’s being hunted by the Yakuza for his ability.
Mythology, art, and the Japanese mafia. Sounds like an exhilarating fantastical romp, doesn’t it? But of course, it didn’t come without its flaws. I wasn’t a huge fan of Katie. Not connecting with the main character of a novel always puts quite the damper on things, but hey, I tried. I did understand that life was hard for her; she just lost her mother and she was forced to be in a place completely foreign to her. But she was way too quick to judge people and had some really stalker-ish tendencies that pretty much had no basis in the beginning (sure, it eventually led her somewhere, but just because a guy wants to be alone doesn’t mean he’s up to something).
I’ll forgive the typical YA clichés of insta-love and broody bad boys because there really was more to love about the book. The best part was being able to feel the culture through the author’s words. Sun is a great writer and I enjoyed her descriptions of the more action-filled sequences later on in the book. She obviously loves the culture and did a lot of research on kanji and Japanese myths surrounding the kami. The fact that she took the connection between the two and came up with an original story was fascinating to me. And I’ll just come out and say it: I’m a shoujo girl. I’ve read too many to even count and I never tire of them. This book read like one and I was pleasantly surprised at how well done it was. While, true, I wasn’t a fan of Katie, her relationship with Tomo after it started to develop wasn’t horrible. They were cute, I’ll give them that. The manga-type moments that Sun alluded to put a smile on my face just because of how familiar it all was.
So all in all, an enjoyable read. If you enjoy Japanese culture in any capacity, be it anime, manga, pop culture, Japanese scenery, mythology, language, whatever — give this book a try. I’m sure there will be something that will keep you entertained.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I’m a YA author and proud Nerdfighter. I was born in Deep River, Canada, a very small town without traffic lights or buses, and where stranger safety is comprised of what to do if you see a bear—or skunk. I started reading fantasy novels at 4 and writing as soon as I could hold a pencil. Hopefully my work’s improved since then.
In university I took English, Linguistics, and Asian History, before settling into Archaeology, because I loved learning about the cultures and stories of ancient people. Of course, I didn’t actually become an archaeologist—I have an intense fear of spiders. I prefer unearthing fascinating stories in the safety of my living room.
The Paper Gods is inspired by my time living in Osaka and travelling throughout Japan. That and watching far too many J-Dramas. I currently live in Toronto with my husband and daughter. When I’m not writing, I’m devouring YA books, knitting nerdy things like Companion Cubes and Triforce mitts, and making elaborate cosplays for anime cons. (via Official Site)