Ink Exchange–Melissa Marr

Book: Ink Exchange
Author: Melissa Marr
Publisher: Harper Teen
325 pages (Hardcover)
My Rating:
4 stars

Leslie is a young woman who lives a troubled life. Her mother is gone, her father is absent, and her brother is a drug dealer. She has had to endure many hardships that cause her to seek out a different life for herself. She finds friends in the local tattoo shop and she longs to get a tattoo. Little does she know that the tattoo she picks out is about to change her life dramatically. Irial is a faerie who is King of the Dark Court. He longs to have Leslie for himself and plans to deceive her into becoming just that.

Ink Exchange is the second book in the Wicked Lovely series. I typically do not read a whole lot of YA, but I am actually enjoying this series. This book was better than the first book, Wicked Lovely. The story is told fairly simply—by that I mean it is a quick, easy reading. However, the story itself has quite a few really intense and complicated subjects in it including rape, drug addiction, and neglect. There were some incredibly profound moments in the book, and some of Leslie’s suffering was tangible while I was reading it. Melissa Marr did an excellent job describing what emotions people go through when abuse is occurring in and outside the home—the confusion and the pain. Leslie is an infinitely sympathetic character. She was not a perfect person by any means, but she did persevere and hold on to who she really was. She was a strong character even though she had moments of weakness and I liked that very human quality in her.

There is also a romance of sorts between her and another faery, Niall. He knows that he is forbidden to be with her, but he wants so badly to be a part of her life. It’s a story of unrequited love which was very touching in a lot of ways. Niall was also a pretty likeable character, but there was something a little lacking for me with him. There was a distance in his demeanor which surely was intentional, but it kept me from connecting with him entirely. Still, I did enjoy who he was and his desire to keep Leslie safe and stop her suffering at the hands of those that wanted to take advantage of her.

I will say that the culture in the book is something that is pretty foreign to me. I know absolutely nothing about tattoos and piercings so I actually enjoy reading about it. It gives me a little peak into how other people think. This culture is very much a part of the series and shows the humanity of people who choose to tattoo and pierce themselves. I like that because a lot of the time people are judged based on the ink and piercings they put on and in their body. People don’t look further than their appearance. This book breaks that stereotype and gives a human face to this culture.

Overall, this was a really enjoyable, quick read. I am definitely enjoying the easiness of YA books now that life is getting busier for me. Because of the nature of the subject matter in Ink Exchange, I did like it better than Wicked Lovely. I think it’s important for people to know that teens are exposed to things like rape, drugs, and abuse/neglect. Ink Exchange did a really good job of showing how it affects people who are exposed to these things and makes the subject matter accessible for younger readers that are in high school or junior high.
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