Hunger Games - except with doubt, folklore and cups of tea
Set in a world where everything you do, whether good or bad, is tattooed on your skin for all to see, this hot new trilogy could be the next Hunger Games.
The first time I heard the premise I had goosebumps. Ink, the first of a trilogy, is set in a world where every significant thing you do, whether good or bad, is tattooed on your skin for everyone to see. There are no secrets. When you die, if you are deemed worthy, your tattoos are made into a book and so you can live on for eternity. When Leora’s father dies, she discovers there’s something missing from his book – and her world starts to unravel.
I knew, even from the premise, that this had all the makings of being the next big Young Adult trilogy – and sure enough, it is flying off the bookshelves, with bookstores already selling out of their copies. While the world is unsettling, there are three-dimensional sympathetic characters you root for. It’s like Hunger Games, except with doubt, folklore and cups of tea instead of mass-murder.
There are fairy tales (some traditional, some new) woven into the story, and the whole book has a fairytale quality, in the best ways. It tackles themes of faith, doubt, identity, coming of age, redemption, but also seems a prescient commentary on our times – xenophobia and racism; the effect of social media, and how much you reveal of yourself; how the stories we tell in our society shape our beliefs. It’s going to be a GCSE teacher’s dream.
Is it suitable for younger readers, e.g. pre-teen? I’d think so, depending on how sensitive your child is: although there is mention of drinking alcohol, there’s no sex, threat and peril rather than graphic violence, and although there’s mention of flaying it doesn’t describe it explicitly.
I devoured it in a day and a half – I just couldn’t stop reading. Sure enough, from the first page to the last – goosebumps. If you want a gripping read that’s thoughtful, beautiful, and unlike anything else you’ve read, do yourself a favour and buy Ink. (Before it gets turned into a film). As a bonus, it has the most beautiful, shiny cover I’ve ever seen on a book. Highly recommended.