Eighteen year old Caenum lives in a world where tattoos are not simply an act of rebellion. They are moving art inscribed on your body which will tell you exactly where your place in Society will be. Since Caenum wishes to forge his own destiny, he plans on fleeing his village of Frosthaven, leaving his grandmother, his best friend Dreya, and everything he’s ever known behind. As so often happens, circumstances intervene and he is unable to make his escape. Things go from bad to worse when Caenum has an altercation with Kenzi, the young Scribe who is supposed to Ink him. From there, a chain of events unfold which send Caenum, Dreya, and Kenzi on the run from the corrupt government known as the Citadel. As they desperately seek the Sanctuary, a secret town where Conduits, or magic users are supposedly safe, the trio discover the origin of Ink and the Citadel’ s true intentions toward those who are gifted with magic.
I found Inked to be a highly imaginative YA novel that was quite unlike anything I’ve read recently. The descriptions of the moving tattoos are beautifully written and I found myself reluctantly wanting one even though the drawbacks were made abundantly clear. The Conduits powers are also fascinating and reminded me of the X-Men. The characters of Caenum, Dreya, and Kenzi were okay, but I felt could have been expanded upon. Kenzi began as a bit obnoxious, but when his unknown magic was released by his own Inking, he became much more sympathetic. Caenum I actually found a bit boring at the beginning, but his personality developed as the book progressed. Their friendship I found came on a little too quickly after the altercation they had. The romance between Caenum and Dreya which grew from their friendship, evolved slowly which was a nice switch from the “love at first sight” that is prevalent in many novels. The worldbuilding is quite good, although I would have like to have seen a little more backstory as to how the Citadel and Ink came into being. In this world not everything is as it seems and the Sanctuary may not necessarily keep you safe. Our trio is betrayed more than a few times, yet people who you think are villains actually turn out to be saviors. What is obvious is that a war is coming between the Citadel and the Conduits and this is what drives the story all the way to it’s exciting conclusion. It’s unclear as to whether or not this is the first book in what will be a series or trilogy, but I hope there will be more. The book is definitely for Young Adults, but I think it will appeal to many adults who like YA Fiction.