You’ve probably seen this book making waves online – why? Because of the cover. It’s gorgeous. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t influence me in wanting to read this, because honestly, this is a book that I went into knowing very little about. All that I did know, was that Ink is set in a world where people’s lives are tattooed onto their skin. In this case, I feel like there isn’t really much more to know than this, because not much else actually happens – and that is my main issue with the book – there was not much there in terms of plot.
Leora Flint’s father recently died, and in accordance with the rules of their society, his skin, chronicling his life’s events, has been removed and made into a book. The pages of his life will be read by the government who will decide whether he is worthy of being remembered, or whether his book will be thrown into flames, to be forgotten forever. However, when his book is confiscated for further investigation, Leora has to deal with the fact that her father hid something from her, and that his skin is not telling the whole story.
I loved the premise of the world that Alice Broadway has created. I was really interested in the culture around the tattoos. For example, the year marks that show hold old a person it; the different tattoos that show crimes a person has committed; the family tree on everybody’s back. I loved seeing how people would come up with ways of marking important events in their life. I would have loved to have seen more detail in people’s tattoo choices, because it’s something that I find fascinating even in real life, for example, the way that Lorea’s mother’s tattoos are all floral, or how one of Lorea’s school friend’s has a previous boyfriend marked on her skin in a dominating position. I just found all of this fascinating, and the notion that you could ‘read’ who a person was and what they were like just by looking at.
On the other hand, this novel was just lacking plot in my opinion. It wasn’t necessarily boring – rather, I really quite enjoyed reading about Lorea learning about the art of tattooing, and dealing with her father’s death. However, I just didn’t get the point of the book in general because there was no clear overarching plot. The end of the novel develops so quickly that I feel like Ink as a novel would have been much better if the story had unravelled more gradually over the whole plot. Instead, for much of the book, it just felt like I was just reading Lorea’s daily life without it having any relevance. This book is an example of one of my pet peeves – it is a book that sets up a series of novels by simply setting the scene for better things to come, despite having tons of potential to be a brilliant standalone whilst also being the first part in a series.
Additionally, I think that because the plot was so weak, it made the characters very one-dimensional for most of the book. Leora makes no decisions for the majority of the book because nothing happens, and so we barely get to see her humanity, and the secondary characters were little more than plot devices. If the book had a stronger plot, all of the characters would have felt more real.
Overall, I wouldn’t say that this book was bad or even boring. I actually really enjoyed it, and I finished it in just over a day. However, just because it was easy to read it doesn’t mean that it was necessarily a fun or gripping read. I would have loved for the plot to have been stronger and interwoven throughout the novel better, but Alice Broadway’s world was interesting enough to make the book generally enjoyable.