Author: Amanda Sun
Series: Paper Gods #1
Genre: YA Paranormal
Summary (from Goodreads)
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.
I was really excited to read this – Japan is not a country I’m very familiar with, nor its culture. Fish out of water stories always appeal to me, and it could have been a great chance to learn about a part of the world I don’t know.
And it almost was. The narrative was certainly steeped in a lot of Japanese culture – from the Kendo clubs, to the language used from time to time, to the ways the characters react in situations that is very different to how Western teenagers might have reacted. There was a rich knowledge behind the story that could have added depth to the story.
The problem was, there wasn’t much story to add any depth too. The story basically is ‘Tomohiro is so hot and mysterious’ and despite some interesting elements – Japanese mythology, Yakuza gangsters – it never really stops being about how hot and mysterious Tomohiro is.
I can’t understand why Katie is so crazy about him. It seems to go from ‘he’s a horrible, nasty person’ to ‘I have the warm fuzzies when I look at him’ with no real journey in between. There’s the shared loss of a parent, which I can see would warm Katie to Tomohiro, perhaps even make her try to overlook his callous behaviour when they first meet, but I don’t buy that it would move to romance without something else going on in between.
There were also a lot of weird jumps in time – judicious use of line breaks would have made the story much easier to follow. Sometimes I had to re-read whole pages to understand what was going on, and that really took me out of the flow of the story.
Basically, there was a lot of nice window dressing for what was essentially a story about a girl swooning over a boy. It was never horrible, but at best it was a little distracting, at worst boring. And then it ended rather abruptly, and I can’t say I’m all that bothered about finding out what happens next.