Review: Rain by Amanda Sun

I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Rain by Amanda SunRain by Amanda Sun
Series: Paper Gods #2
Published by Harlequin Teen on June 24, 2012
Genres: Mystery, Mythology, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
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three-stars

American Katie Green has decided to stay in Japan. She's started to build a life in the city of Shizuoka, and she can't imagine leaving behind her friends, her aunt and especially Tomohiro, the guy she's fallen in love with. But her return is not as simple as she thought. She's flunking out of Japanese school and committing cultural faux pas wherever she goes. Tomohiro is also struggling—as a Kami, his connection to the ancient gods of Japan and his power to bring drawings to life have begun to spiral out of control.

When Tomo decides to stop drawing, the ink finds other ways to seep into his life—blackouts, threatening messages and the appearance of unexplained sketches. Unsure how to help Tomo, Katie turns to an unexpected source for help—Jun, her former friend and a Kami with an agenda of his own. But is Jun really the ally he claims to be? In order to save themselves, Katie and Tomohiro must unravel the truth about Tomo's dark ancestry, as well as Katie's, and confront one of the darkest gods in Japanese legend.

Amanda Sun’s Ink charmed me with its unique paranormal aspects, its lush Japanese setting, and the manga references sprinkled all around. Not without faults, I nonetheless really enjoyed it and have been waiting excitedly for Rain. I hoped to see an increase in the strongest aspect of Sun’s writing and a decrease in the weaker elements. Sadly, while still enjoyable, I don’t think Rain is stronger than Ink. The increase in the romantic drama aspects and a good deal of last minute infodumping made Rain very much a stereotypical second book.

The aspects of Ink that I loved are still present, by and large. Katie’s made the decision to stay and Japan, but she does have to deal with the ramifications of that. In her normal life, Katie has to really try to adjust to life in Japan now. At the beginning of Ink, she very much resented being there and wanted to go back to Canada. Now, though, she wants to say, but doing so isn’t going to be easy. Her teacher wants her to either repeat a year of school or transfer to an international school, because her Japanese isn’t nearly good enough for the college entrance exams. This detail was perhaps my favorite part, because, despite the paranormal life-or-death stuff, Katie’s still got to keep focus on her day to day life.

The mythology-inspired paranormal plot line is pretty great. I still find the descriptions of the art coming to life utterly magical and thoroughly compelling. Of course, Harlequin’s gorgeous packaging of the novel, complete with art matching the covers, completes the picture. Like Ink, this book is simply beautiful. The plot itself is quite original, one very obvious twist aside. There’s not nearly enough fiction about other culture’s mythologies and Sun does a lovely job with it.

The romance in Ink didn’t really charm me, because I felt like Katie’s narration got really cheesy anytime she was with Tomo. That doesn’t seem to be quite as much the case any more. She and Tomo joke around and talk less like they’ve escaped from The Vampire Diaries or something. Their gentle ribbing of one another made me like them more than I did before. I also liked the way they’re having to work on their relationship for real world reasons, not just paranormal ones; the cultural difference isn’t insurmountable, but it does take work.

Unfortunately, as their romance improved, other drama seemingly had to arise in its place in the form of Takahashi Jun. He still has a crush on Katie. He also has information. She does the typical romance thing of sneaking off to meet with him just to learn from him, not telling Tomo because it will only hurt his feelings. This always ends well, of course. The love triangle aspect felt so forced, particularly in Sun’s half-hearted attempts to sell Katie being somewhat drawn to Jun. Though I don’t strongly ship Tomo and Katie, I have more faith in Katie’s attachment than that.

The ending was perhaps my biggest issue. There’s a climactic scene, which is quite cinematic and seriously this series would make an amazing anime. Anyway, a character emerges to explain all of the confusing things that have been happening. I do not like this trope and it was all just so damn convenient. Like, this was all stuff they could have learned for themselves with research, but ugh research is hard.

Though Rain wasn’t quite as good as I’d hoped, I think if you enjoyed Ink, you’ll want to continue with the series. I will most definitely be sticking around for the next book, because I’m definitely curious what’s next.

Favorite Quote:

“But that’s all any of us have in the end, isn’t it? There is death ahead of all of us. And so we live.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif almost kiss la corda d'oro

One response to “Review: Rain by Amanda Sun”

  1. Anya says:

    Haha, this is exactly how I felt too! I loved how pretty Ink was and the whole Kami plot line, but omg relationship drama of dooooom. I agree that the attempt at a love triangle felt ridiculously forced and just completely annoying. I’m hoping book three will finally be over that, but who knows 😉
    Anya recently posted…Fireborn by Keri Arthur eARC {4 Stars} + GiveawayMy Profile

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