Author: Amanda Sun
Rating: ★★★★ / ★★★
Synopsis: 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
Huge thank you to Harlequin Teen and Netgalley for this ARC!
Oh Amanda Sun, why are your books so fun? I don’t know what it is, but the Paper Gods has this brand of melodrama that just sucks me in every time. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I picture reading this as an anime or manga, but I every page I read I find myself visualize everything aspect of this story that just makes a lot of the elements feel natural.
I love that in this instalment we learn more about the ink and how it inhabits life. A lot of the paranormal elements just feel so naturally woven into the story and they are the most intriguing aspects. Further more, I love love love Kami, and even though I’ve studied Japanese literature and folklore for many years, I always enjoy seeing different interpretations or revisions because it’s interesting to also see what stays in tact and what is changed in order to tell the intended story. Overall, it’s fun, and it stays fun because the characters just make it so dramatic and kinda crazy.
I’m still not huge on the romance or love triangle aspects in this series, but I will admit that parts of this novel made me sad. Katie was so much more of an observer in this book as opposed to an active participant, yet we get two very sad stories from both Tomo and Jun and I was just so heartbroken for the two of them! Truthfully though, I think Sun has a great talent for writing male characters, especially the kind that are wounded but want redemption of some kind. Hopefully in the next book, both those boys will find the solace that they are clearly seeking. Oh and Shiori? She needs a big smack.
Rain was just a fun read overall, and even with it’s melodramatic aspects, it’s so easy to be an active participant in this world, and I loved the fusion of culture and language. There is such a vividness to the flow of language and I love how easy everything is to visualize, which I think is a feat in itself considering it’s not always easy to picture what you are reading. I’m definitely looking forward to the conclusion, but oddly I think I’m patience enough that I’m in no hurry to get there.
This book was MUCH better than the first one. There were still a lot of things that made me roll my eyes (see all of my status updates) but THANK YOU FOR NOT USING GAIJIN!!!! Finally. It was only used 2-3 times in this book and it was used in the proper way. Finally. The whole name thing bothered me because it’s really not a thing for foreigners. In my seven years in Japan I have never had any issues with names.
Also, Ishikawa getting shot and then it being basically no big deal outside of the small group involved in the book is just unrealistic. Guns are illegal in Japan and if a random high school kid ended up in the hospital from a gun shot that would be HUGE. The lack of media frenzy around that was just weird. The lack of ANY frenzy was weird. I mean, earlier this month here in Japan a stupid pop star got attacked with a saw and that’s ALL anyone could talk about for WEEKS. I once heard a news story about a weirdo shooting girls with mayonnaise. A gunshot wound would big A BIG DEAL.
Katie was much better in this. Still can’t believe that she lost her mom a year ago and is just so okay with it. She was less stupid and less stalker-ish, but there were a few times when I just wanted to tell her to SHUT UP OMG. Shiori was super annoying but made some good points that highlighted some issues that I think are important to talk about. Jun was too melodramatic and his drama was so annoying. I feel bad for Ikeda and loved Tomo (dream sigh) as always.
Overall I felt like this was a lot more story and a lot less of Sun trying to prove that she has some authority over teaching us Japanese culture. The first book felt like LOOK AT ALL THIS STUFF I KNOW ABOUT JAPAN and this one had a LOT less of that.
Annnnnd finally, as with the first book, I don’t believe Katie’s Japanese ability AT ALL. There is no way that she’s as fluent (speaking wise) as she is. There’s no way she’s running around able to understand everyone, saying everything correctly, no problem, and then turning around and having so much trouble with reading and writing and then turning around and whipping out text messages and reading others no problem. Also, they’re all supposed to be speaking Japanese, but again there’s a bunch of Japanese words written in romanji thrown in and it just makes no sense. A lot of the words were also defined and explained in text this time (despite having a functioning glossary in this eArc, unlike the first one). I really wish that all of those random romanji were left out. It MIGHT make it a bit more believable (or at least make me think less about what language they’re speaking) that they’re speaking Japanese all of the time.
ANYWAY. If you liked the first book, then you’ll like this. And sorry not sorry for being so nit-picky, but I feel that if we’re going to go the whole #weneeddiversebooks route then the books with all the diversity in them should at least be accurate.