Katie Greene is a bit lost. Her mom died several months ago and now she is living with her aunt in Japan. Though she’s learning, her Japanese still isn’t great and she feels so far from home, but she’s trying her best to give it all a shot. She’s made a friend or two but still feels out of place, being the only American in her school, since her aunt insisted she go to regular Japanese school. Then she meets Yuu Tomohiro and she gets put even further out of depth. He seems like such a jerk, but she can see something softer lurking just beneath the surface and she’s fascinated and confused by him, especially by the fact that drawing seem to move around him. Either she’s losing her mind or Tomohiro has a special ability he doesn’t want to share with the class. Either way, she is determined to get to know the real Tomo.
Really, I think this is 4.5 stars….when did I turn into one of those people who reviews with .5 star ratings?!?!? Anyway, I was both incredibly excited and terribly nervous to start this because of its setting. I have never been to Japan nor do I speak perfect Japanese, but I did take several Japanese classes in high school and kept in relatively good touch with my teachers once they returned to Japan so I wanted to details to be perfect. You can imagine my relief when I realized that the setting was incredibly well researched. Sun definitely didn’t skimp out on making sure this was as authentic as she could get and I applaud her for that. It made me so nostalgic that I actually went back and dug out my old Japanese stuff to refresh my memory and cram more into my pitiful brain. But that’s a bit off topic.
Katie is a pretty decent leading character. She has minor lapses into that dreaded Bella Swan syndrome, but she tries to pull herself out rather quickly and always seems to do the right thing in the end. Her immediate fascination with Yuu seemed a little insta-lovey and she does start thinking she loves him rather soon in the relationship, but it never truly felt like insta-love, which I think is a real accomplishment. I was a little disturbed by her tendency to stalk him. It was more than a little creepy, but maybe that is because I JUST finished a novel where the girl had stalker tendencies and things got out of hand. Lucky for us, Katie’s stalkerism takes a back seat once she and Tomo have their first real conversation. It was hard not to be sympathetic towards her. The poor girl is orphaned, living temporarily in Japan with her aunt until things can be sorted out with her grandparents, having to learn a language and a culture that she knows she’ll be leaving behind soon, and even though she is getting the hang of it, she’s terribly homesick.
Then there is Yuu Tomohiro, who is the quintessential YA bad boy. You know the asshole that’s really a good guy underneath but pushes everyone away for their own protection? Well, that description doesn’t sound amazing, but trust me, if you’re into bad boys, this one is definitely for you. And he gets major bonus points for realizing that Katie will be much better equipped to handle the dangers ahead if he lets her in on his big secret. I mean, fuck, she already really knows anyway she just needs confirmation, but he could have been more of a dick and refused to admit it. I found his random modesty all too adorable. I realize that Japanese etiquette is so entirely different than ours that it’s difficult to really imagine, but I found it cute that he could go from making lurid comments without batting an eyelash and then blush furiously when Katie has the audacity to suggest he call her by her first name. He’s just so damned badass and adorable.
The writing was completely addictive and believable. Things may have been just a tad more interesting if we got something from Tomohiro’s perspective (hint hint hint), but it was still thrilling to see it all from Katie’s eyes. I’ve already mentioned the believable Japanese setting so I won’t go all fangirl over that again. The fantasy elements were also well done. It wasn’t over the top outlandish and it was that perfect combination that makes you almost believe that somewhere in Japan right now, this is all really happening.
Closing comments? Just read it. If you like fantasy, if you like Japan, if you like ya, whatever, just give it a shot and be amazed.
****Thank you to Harlequin TEEN for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****