Ink (Alice Broadway)

Ink is the first novel in the Skin Books trilogy by Alice Broadway.
Finished on: 23.5.2019

In Saintstone, everyone is tattooed and every important life event is recorded in tattoos. When a person dies, their skin is preserved in a book that chronicles and pays hommage to their life. This thought gives Leora, who dreams of becoming an inker herself, much peace when her own father dies. But then she glimpses a mark that should not be there, something that marks him as a traitor. With that realization, Leora’s entire life starts to unravel.

Ink is not exactly subtle in its metaphors about surveillance states and populism. It doesn’t need to be to be a good read – and that it certainly was. Even if you aren’t as into tattoos as I am.

The book cover that is covered in bronze-colored tattoo-like markings, showing, among other things, an owl, an eagle, a feather and a girl in white instead of bronze.

I found myself reaching for Ink several times in the bookstore, just because it looks so absolutely gorgeous. I hesitated because it seemed to be “yet another young adult dystopia” – and I felt that I had read my fair share of them. But I finally caved and I don’t regret it at all. The book may not be quite as good as its cover, but it is definitely an engaging read that easily hooks you.

And I really liked the idea with the tattoos and how they record your life in this society. I also liked that the differentiation of people here is based on your chosen looks at not on something inherent and biological – it seemed to highlight that what we conceive of as race is just as socially created and then inscribed in the body as a culture where tattoos are basically mandatory. Unfortunately that particular angle gets a little destroyed towards the end with the “direct descendant” and “marked at birth” stuff.

Overall the book doesn’t fuck around, but lays its metaphors our plain and clear – probably also due to the fact that it is aimed at young adults. A little more subtlety could have worked, but it isn’t necessary. And we definitely need books that keep talking about sruveillance and control and (right-wing) populism, so I definitely can’t begrudge it that.

Of course there is a love triangle and this time I wasn’t actually rooting for a throuple. The two guys were okay. I definitely liked Leora more, though, and I absolutely loved Obel (although he was almost too perfect). In any case, I was definitely intrigued enough to keep reading the series.

Summarizing: not bad at all.

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