INK by Alice Broadway starts with the end of Leora's dad's life, and it follows Leora's transition from a protected daddy's girl to a naive and socially awkward apprentice, and her growth from apprentice to pawn to a young woman with a mind of her own. The world in INK is a fascinating dystopian world where people's lives are on display through their tattoos, and the government has declared this to be for the best because secrets can hide evil and rebellion. There are those in the world who choose not to get tattoos, blanks, and children of Saintstone are raised to fear anyone who would choose to hide themselves behind un-inked skin.
Leora's story is told in the first person, and that's the perfect vehicle for a character who is forced to challenge firmly held personal beliefs. There are also fairy tales and fables woven into the narrative, and those thankfully add depth to the plot rather than detract from it. Leora's character is well-formed, and even when she's annoying, I was still rooting for her to do the right thing. The other characters in INK are less well developed, but there's hope for them to come into their own since this is the first book in a series.
The pacing of INK is sometimes slow, and the world building in it leads to some confusion--partially because the building is necessarily done through Leora, and she spends a lot of time confused. As clarity begins to come to her toward the end of the book, the pace picks up, and my view of the book's society sharpened. I admit that I also had to work through the ickiness of the skin-flaying/book-making aspect of the story.
Ultimately, INK is a promising start to what promises to be a good series. Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the beautiful jacket art and design, and the terrific overall page design. Shout out to the creative folks responsible for a job well done.
My thanks to the publisher and YA Books Central for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Beautiful cover and page design
An interesting new dystopian world