I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Inked by Eric Smith
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on January 20th 2015
Genres: Art, Body Art & Tattooing, Epic, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, General, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Sometimes your only chance to survive, and what you most fear... is to be INKED. Tattoos once were an act of rebellion. Now they decide your destiny the moment the magical Ink settles under your skin. And in a world where Ink controls your fate, Caenum can't escape soon enough. He is ready to run from his family, and his best friend Dreya, and the home he has known, just to have a chance at a choice. But when he upsets the very Scribe scheduled to give him his Ink on his eighteenth birthday, he unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that sends the corrupt, magic-fearing government, The Citadel, after him and those he loves. Now Caenum, Dreya, and their reluctant companion Kenzi must find their way to the Sanctuary, a secret town where those with the gift of magic are safe. Along the way, they learn the truth behind Ink, its dark origins, and why they are the only ones who can stop the Citadel.Eric Smith takes you on a fast-paced fantasy adventure, perfect for anyone who has dreamed of being different...only to discover that destiny is more than skin deep.
Reading and finishing Inked by Eric Smith was a bit of a whirlwind for me. When I started it, I was excited to read it but by the end I found myself very overwhelmed and a tad confused by what I had just read. It all just happened so fast and was kind of unexpected in terms of what I thought was going to occur in the book. At first I was actually enjoying the way the story was playing out in front of me but then somewhere along the way it became less enjoyable as I spent more time trying to figure out exactly what was going on. I couldn’t get behind the characters like I wanted to. The romance felt forced and fell very flat for me. And what I wanted to hold onto and like in the story was somehow lost from my grasp over time. So, was I disappointed? Not necessarily. I don’t know. I mean, it’s honestly hard to tell because mostly I was just confused.
Now don’t get me wrong that I hated everything about this book because that is not true at all. In fact, there were aspects of Inked that I liked. One of these were the images of the tattoos. I think that is what really caused me to want to read Inked in the first place was this idea of mystical tattoos that determine your life course. These tattoos in a sense control your destiny. You are expected to follow what they do and you are not to question them. I have never really read anything like before especially in the YA genre. I thought it was a pretty unique new territory to delve into both as a writer and as a reader. I was engrossed by the descriptions of the tattoos that had already been placed on individuals’ skin and the types of the lives which they were leading because of them. I was also invested in the emotions of the main character Caenum as he struggled with the fact that he was coming of the age where he was expected to be inked. Yet, right before Caenum can be inked, the true meaning behind the inkings is revealed, and it is discovered that years of magic and mystery have been hidden underneath them and their controlling messages.
At first, I really liked the mystery and intrigue that surrounded the magic. It was like this whole hidden world underneath the world already in place which is always a cool thing to have in a book. Except that at times this world seemed so completely disconnected from its surroundings in a way that made it feel like it didn’t entirely gel with the rest of the book. I mean, I knew that it was a secret world, with deep dark secrets and I knew that it was meant to be dark and mysterious but I just couldn’t get behind it. I couldn’t get behind the idea of taking over the government and the political corruption that was apparently ensuing. I really liked the way Eric Smith had set up his original magic system with the tattoos so much so that I guess it was hard to get into this secondary world which I didn’t feel was quite as developed. I also felt that the twists felt kind of forced as if they were just thrown in there and unfortunately they didn’t impact me very much as a reader. I wished there had been more build up prior to the twist so that I could have felt the impact that I know was supposed to be there. Maybe then I wouldn’t have felt so much like this:
Also, I wish that there had been less focus on the potential romance and more focus on this secondary world, and making it more inclusive with the original world because if there had been, I have a strong feeling I would have enjoyed it more. I just couldn’t help but feel like the romance was being used a plot device, and it didn’t work for me. It felt very forced and flat and I didn’t believe that Caenum and Dreya really wanted to be together. They were so much better off as friends. If anything I felt that they were coming together out of convenience. If there had to be a romance in Inked I guess I just wish it had been developed more. I think that is honestly my problem with a lot of what was presented for me as a reader in this story. I wish so much of it had been more developed and then it would have hopefully gelled better in the end.
I do think that Inked would make a great introduction to someone who is first entering the world of fantasy and doesn’t want to be too overwhelmed. The visualization of the tattoos and the magical world is fantastic and is easily accessible to the reader. However for readers who are die-hard fantasy fans and lovers of a political uprising in a fantasy world, this may not be enough to necessarily wet your appetites. All of that being said though, I still think Eric Smith is a rock star and I very much look forward to whatever his next venture may be.