Book Review: Ink

Published By: Vamptasy
Publication Date: September 2011
Buy it at Amazon
Audience: Young Adult

Ink drew my attention because of the gorgeous cover and the mixture of paranormal and Native American mythology. There aren't a ton of books out there for Native American teens within the paranormal genre. As someone who teaches at a school with a significant Native American population I am always on the lookout for books that will appeal to my students. Who doesn't want to see characters like themselves reflected in literature?

S.J. Davis has a lot of potential as a writer and I was impressed with her ability to capture emotion in such moving ways. The opening scenes of the novella deal with the death of Sparrow's mother in a car wreck. I was blown away be the writing in this section and was disappointed to see that not everything in the novella was written in the same manner. There were so many segments that felt rushed to me. For example, the relationship between Sparrow and Layne just happened all of a sudden without much build up. I wanted more explanation and more world building.

The Native American aspects of the story and the inking process fascinated me. Those elements make this something truly special and worth the time. I did have a moment where the tattoo process made me think of Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr and the She Smells the Dead series by E.J. Stevens. Both of those stories deal with special inks for tattooing. Davis does truly take things in a direction all her own in spite of my connections to other works. The symbolism between Sparrow and the plight of Native Americans throughout history intrigued me. 

This novella was really hard for me to rate. The writing was solid and I loved the creativity of the story, but I just felt like it was too short. There is so much potential lurking within these pages. I wish Davis would take this and expand it into a 300-400 page novel. The shortness of this one causes the middle and end to jump around in a way that was confusing and left so many things undeveloped. I also found myself wanting to know more about the myth of the White Buffalo. I think explaining this more to readers would have made Sparrow's journey more powerful for readers.

One Last Gripe: I don't feel like Sparrow's cutting was every fully addressed. This was such a huge aspect of the character that I would have liked to see more about why she was doing it and to feel like the issue was truly resolved for her.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The story behind the ink

First Sentence: The icy sadness of winter bled the color from my life.

Favorite Character: Sparrow

Least Favorite Character: I didn't have one this time

“It’s a good day to die.”
My mother holds my arm fiercely.
“But as you grieve for me, listen for
the voices.
Then, you must get the ink.”

Sparrow stumbles between two worlds,
light and dark, love and hate, what is real
and what is in her mind.

When her mother dies on the Reservation,
Sparrow’s world is shadowed with anger
and narrowed by pain. The voices arrive,
but are they real? And how can a tattoo
make her stronger?