Monday, February 12, 2018

Review: Ink by Alice Broadway

Ink by Alice Broadway
Ink (Skin Books #1)
By Alice Broadway
Format: Print ARC
Source: YALLFest

To Sum It Up: In Saintstone, the marks inked onto a person’s skin tell his or her life story, both the good and the bad. When someone dies, that person’s skin is turned into a book and either deemed worthy of being preserved and remembered or forgotten and burned depending on what kind of life the individual led. Leora Flint has always followed Saintstone’s rules and traditions until her beloved father dies, and questions begin to arise about possible past misdeeds and secrets he might have kept, even from his family.

Lee's Review: Ink is kind of a hard book to describe, even when trying to pinpoint its genre. Because folklore is such an integral part of the novel, Ink sometimes feels like a fantasy. The unquestioning certainty with which the people of Saintstone, the town in which the book is set, must accept these stories as the absolute truth throws some dystopia into the mix.

The life stories of everyone in Saintstone are literally open books because they’re told through the tattoos people acquire—sometimes not voluntarily—throughout their lives. After death, one’s skin is turned into a book, and the books of those judged not worthy of being remembered are burned. It took me a moment to wrap my head around the bit where dead people’s skins become books, but once I got past the initial ewww factor, Ink was an intriguing read. Alice Broadway’s prose is very elegant, even when bringing to life a society ruled by a government that keeps a vigilant watch over its denizens.

Ink is narrated by Leora Flint, who at the book’s open is mourning the loss of her father. In the weeks leading up to the ceremony that will determine whether or not her father deserves to be remembered, Leora becomes increasingly anxious that his book will be thrown into the flames for possibly breaking Saintstone’s laws. Leora herself is not the rebellious type, and it comes across in her narrative voice. That posed a problem for me later in the book, when Leora makes decisions that seem uncharacteristic for her. I felt she needed more development leading up to that point so her actions made more sense for her character.

I also didn’t find the book’s big reveal all that revelatory. Again, I think it’s because Leora’s narration is so steady, it didn’t have the inflection needed to deliver an impact.

While Ink wasn’t quite a page turner for me, I did admire Alice Broadway’s lovely writing and creativity in devising the book’s premise. For me to read the sequel, though, I’d want to see more depth to Leora’s character and the secondary characters as well.

All in All: I really liked the genre mashup here and the prose, but I was looking for a bit more to Leora’s character.

Melissa's Review: In Ink, Alice Broadway crafts an exceptional setting through magnificent world building. She forms a unique culture that propels the plot and her characters successfully throughout the book. Because the society she places her characters within is so complex, the story carries a deeper meaning. The theme of the story becomes one of man (or in this case, woman) against a corrupt government, a theme I find particularly captivating. The theme does, however, cause Leora to be somewhat naïve in the beginning, but the reader does see her make some satisfying progress as the story continues.

Ink is very well written, and Broadway does an excellent job of describing the artistry behind the inking culture, truly showing the reader what these tattoos look like. The pacing of the novel is mostly consistent, keeping the reader interested. Additionally, the characters are likable, but not quite lovable. All of the important aspects of a good book are present, but the characters could not connect with me in a way to take this book to the next level.

The only true problem I had with Ink was that the ending felt slightly rushed. I would have really liked to see Leora develop more as a character while she dealt with the truths she had discovered. I think that growth would have made the resolution feel more complete. I do think the ending scene was quite powerful, but it could have been even better with more insight into Leora’s decisions.

All in All: This was an excellent read, and Broadway’s world building skills are phenomenal. I just wish the main character’s development felt more complete.

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