Series: Paper Gods #2
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Caution: as a sequel, this review may include spoilers of the first book: Ink. If you would like to know my thoughts of Ink, watch this review.
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.
Rain was a wonderful sequel which continued to keep the beauty and rich Japanese culture, mythology and setting alive. The characters continued to develop and surprise, leaving you conflicted about who you thought you could trust. This book had a nice, calm pace with some intense moments leading up to the conclusion - though the section around the middle did drag slightly. I think this was a great sequel which some surprises towards the end which will definitely lead to an intense third book!
The main thing which I love about this series is how strong and present the Japanese elements are in this book. Although I have not read many books set in countries outside of the U.S.A. or England (excluding fantasy worlds), for the ones I do come across, I find that the setting and cultural differences are somewhat lacking. Amanda Sun certainly has no problems here and highlights the beauty of Japan so wonderfully. Furthermore, Katie's struggles with adjusting to the culture and abiding by the expected social behaviours were very realistic.
That being said, some of her other mistakes and decisions began to get a bit irritating. She isn't as forthcoming with Tomo about some of the things she did as she probably should have been. This kind of correlates to the love triangle that isn't really a love triangle... things never progress far enough, but outside sources kind of make it into some form of a pentagon... but not quite. It's a weird situation.
There was so much mystery surrounding some of the characters - you could never really pinpoint whether they were helping Katie or working against here. There were plenty of surprises along the way, and my opinions of a few of the characters have drastically changed! I'm really intrigued to see how the characters continue to progress, and I can't wait to see what happens in the next book!