How hard do you have to shake a family tree to find out the truth about the past? Fifteen-year-old Rae Kerrigan never questioned her family’s history. That is until she accepted a scholarship to Guilder Boarding School in England. Guilder is an exclusive, gifted school. Rae has no idea what she is getting herself into or that her family’s past is going to come back and taunt her. She learns she is part of an unparalleled group of individuals who become inked with a unique tattoo (tatu) on their sixteenth birthday. The tatu enables them to have supernatural powers particular to the shape of their ink-art. Both of her parents were inked, though Rae never knew, as they passed away when she was young. Learning about her family's past, her evil father and sacrificial mother, Rae needs to decide if there is a ray of hope in her own life.
Here's what I liked (in order of importance):
The concept/world: When these special teens turn 16, a tattoo appears overnight. For boys it is on their arm, for girls on the lower back. The design of the tattoo which appears dictates their powers. For example, the person marked with a lightning bolt design has the ability to manipulate electricity.
These kids are part of a secret society and are sent to Guilder Boarding School where they learn about, and train their powers.
Main Character: You can't help but identify with the misfit/orphan-turned-kick-ass-heroine Rae.
Love interest/storyline: It is evident pretty early on who the love interest is. He's very likeable and, honestly, what kept me reading to the end.
Ending Yes, by now you know what I like and don't like in an ending. This one is satisfying. This is not a "To Be Continued" type, even though there are more books coming.
What I didn't like
The similarities to "Harry Potter" set-up. Ordinary kid gets sent to magical boarding school where everybody knows her name. She's special, with powers that are greater than the rest.
All the side characters. There were quite a few side characters (again, similar to Harry Potter). But I felt they kind of got shortchanged into sort of stereotypical bitchy current girlfriend of Rae's love interest, dizty-but-well-meaning roomate. gaggle of guys interested in Rae romantically, kind, elderly professor-mentor. This is a series so hopefully they'll be better fleshed out in as they come to the forefront of the story?
I had some trouble getting into it. The author probably could have started a few more pages into the story and been fine. But once the concept of the tattoo was introduced and the cute boy showed up I was hooked. The story moved along nicely and the mythology/world made sense once it was established. Also, the romance storyline had me rooting for them to get together.
I'm giving it 4 stars out of 5 - I liked it but if you don't like fantasy/magic in your YA then it is probably not for you.
Note: I received an e-book copy in exchange for a review.