Imagine a world where a tattoo determines your citizen status. Ink follows Finn, a reporter for a struggling newspaper as he works (and falls in love with) an informant named Mari. Written in a noir style (though rising to lyricism throughout), it's hard not to imagine this book in classic black and white. What separates it from other near-future dystopias (if we can even call it that considering the current political climate) is the "magic" based on Latin American history. Throughout the novel, Mari's jaguar "twin" washes over her features at times and guides her when the world is too much.
While the novel opens with a focus on Finn the reporter and his informant-turned-lover Mari, it continues expanding into four point-of-view characters each occupying a different role in not only the story but in the world. Abbie is the daughter of a woman organizing the new internment camps for "inks" and Del is part of a local business that hires temporary workers. As their stories grow closer together and intertwine, Mari grows in her power but also her ability as a storyteller. Fairy tales whether true or false, become another form of escape.
Ten years ago when Ink first hit shelves, it would have been a difficult read. Now, the images of tattoos, GPS trackers, internment camps, border dumps are all too mainstream. Just like Twitter in the novel, these stories fill my timeline. This past weekend, a brief discussion popped up on my timeline regarding good speculative fiction: it's not meant to predict the future but warn against a type of future. Ten years ago, just coming off the Bush presidency, immigration, racism, sexism, and so on, weren't great, either, but Ink warned against a certain future. Plenty of people listened and worked diligently to avert it, particularly in communities of color, but here we are. It can get worse, as Ink shows, and this warning should ring loud to the people and communities systematically empowered (that's us, white folks).
It's hard not to talk about social justice as this new edition comes out, but that's also a disservice to Vourvoulias' work. Much like Atwood's Handmaid's Tale or Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower, this novel is incredibly engaging. It's fast paced, action-packed, full of myth and magic and truth, and displays Vourvoulias' talent as a writer as she navigates four distinct points-of-view and these characters' engaging voices. While the subject matter hits hard, the novel is an adventure.
Baseline Assessment: 9/10
Bonuses: +1 for being one of those books that is an IMPORTANT READ in this day and age, if you feel me.
Nerd Coefficient: 10/10, “Mind-blowing/life-changing.” Read more about our scoring system .
Reference: Vourvoulias, Sabrina. Ink [Rosarium Publishing, 2nd Edition, 2018]
Posted by Phoebe Wagner
Posted by Phoebe Wagner