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.
My anticipation for Rain over the past year is what I think made me like this book less than the first book. Of course I enjoyed Rain, but to give it a three rating rather than a four rating was due to the bumps in the roads by the plot holes that arose throughout the novel.
Rain starts out right where the end of Ink with Katie remaining in Japan. The beautiful and vivid imagery of Japanese culture as Katie and her friends, Yuki and Tanaka, make their way to a firework festival, something that I cannot wait to attend when I study abroad in Japan, is what really captivates me about the writing and the background of the Paper Gods series. Amanda Sun thankfully provides some recap surrounding characters and the end of the first novel, Ink, helping me remember what had happened at the end of the previous book after a year of reading it.
But after the first few chapters, Ink starts to become very patchy. Some chapters focus on finding out information about the Kami, the descendants of the sun goddess Amaterasu; some chapters focused on Tomohiro’s blackouts and breakdowns; some chapters focused on school life; some chapters focused on Jun and Tomohiro bitching at each other; and some chapters focused on Katie’s wavering feelings between Tomohiro and Jun. Meanwhile, I felt that a lot of information was dropped abruptly just to make things finally click after chapters and chapters of filler. And then plot holes, mainly Tomohiro’s pregnant friend Shiori, and Jun, popping up all over the place unexplained just to cause conflict. And Shiori’s conflict was just positively irking. All of it made Rain difficult to get through from time to time.
The relationship conflict within Rain happened to be, what I believe, a downfall of this novel. The love triangle relationship that Katie doesn’t stop herself from falling into. The extremely bitchy jealous girls on both Tomohiro and Jun’s side because they both fawn over Katie. And just Katie’s overall actions surrounding her relationship with Tomohiro whether it be her going behind his back to see and speak with Jun, or her sparking feelings for Jun/her dreams with him that frustrate me. The unnecessary addition of a second potential love interest in this novel when the star-crossed lovers aspect of Tomohiro and Katie is working out so well! Tomohiro is such a sweet, gentle, and protective person around Katie and only wishes for her happiness and well-being even if it means that they cannot be together. Why does Jun need to be added to the mix? It is fine to leave the fact that Jun likes Katie, that is all well and dandy, but don’t ruin a perfectly good relationship between Tomohiro and Katie by having her start to feel things for another boy. It is just so redundant in YA that it’s ridiculous. And even if Amanda Sun was going for a manga-esque feel with her novel, even the love triangles in manga are over played.
I wish there was much more involvement with the secondary characters because they were much more interesting than the conflict between Tomohiro and Jun and Katie. Yuki was absolutely stupendous as Katie’s best friend. And Ishikawa, who I thought was going to be bedridden the entire novel, his appearance and interaction with Katie and Tomohiro made him interesting to get to know. And as a main character, Tomohiro, I felt, was extremely realistic and an outstanding guy for Katie despite his fatal flaw, being a Kami, and the evil forces that are after him and his power. He, despite his feelings, understands the importance of her safety and her happiness, even if it means that he cannot be in the picture. But we all know that Katie is too stubborn, and will do anything to help Tomohiro control his Kami side. And Katie’s dedication is her double-edge sword that both makes her and breaks her character.
The one thing that I really enjoyed in Ink that they didn’t keep in Rain was the little flipbook pictures in the margins of the pages. This is just my personal preference, but what I enjoyed about those images was how the reader could flip the pages and make the pictures move, just like how the characters can make their images move in the novel. Making the readers Paper Gods was such a cute and inventive idea, that I’m sad they didn’t keep in the sequel. Though, the artwork in the pages does continue and is still stunning as ever.
Final Summation: Rain, though did not live up to my expectations, did captivate me. Though some parts throughout the novel became boring, and the plot holes and love triangle made the road to reading the book quite unsettling, I did come to enjoy Rain by the end of the novel. I hope that the unanswered questions that Amanda Sun has left at the conclusion of Rain are answered in the final installment of this series, and I honestly do not know what to expect in this final novel, but I can”t wait to find out.