Set in a world where every major action and life event is tattooed on your skin, Ink by Alice Broadway is a unique dystopian read, perfect for middle school students. Leora, the protagonist of the story, feels different from the people around her. She has the rare talent of reading others’ ink and interpreting their true meanings, but this causes problems when she notices her father has the tattoo of a criminal.
After he dies, Leora’s father has his skin removed, preserved and cut into pages to make a book. The families of the deceased can then read over their loved ones’ and ancestors’ lives again and again. That way, no one is forgotten
However, only those deemed worthy by a special council have the privilege of getting this done. Instead, those who have committed deeds too terrible to forgive have their body burned. Then, they will be forgotten along with the stories etched onto their skin.
Leora knows that criminals with the specific mark her father has aren’t allowed to be remembered, but his skin book is delivered to her family’s house anyway, perfectly bound and complete…except for the symbol. She knows the book has been secretly edited to show he lead a faultless life, but who could have done it…and why?
At the same time, there is a rebel group known as the “blanks” that choose not to conform to the practice of inking and hide away from normal society. They are said to be planning an attack on Saintstone where Leora lives. Unlike so many who fear them though, Leora just wants to understand the blanks and why they do not want to be tattooed.
Published in 2017, Ink is unlike any other modern science fiction novel. The characters are developed so that they seem almost like real people, and the setting is so thoroughly planned out that Saintstone might be a real place. It is a quick but exciting read, engaging all the way through. It is both a mystery and a story of self-discovery and growing up, so it’s easy to relate to Leora’s emotions on a personal level.
I would recommend this book to all middle schoolers as it is a versatile story everyone can enjoy. If you’re looking for something new to try and you’re not usually a sci-fi reader, then I strongly suggest you read Ink. It’s a great stepping stone between genres and is on the line separating teen and young adult books. I hope everyone will consider reading it.