I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.
See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I received from the publisher via NetGalley.
My galley tried to pull a disappearing act on me and keep me from reading this book until I bought it (and I fully expected to buy it in order to pay for my stupidity/because I really wanted to read the darn book), but I eventually found the file lost in the annals of my computer and got it working. Huzzah! Though it was nice to read it for free, I would not have been unhappy one little bit to have paid for Ink is Thicker than Water instead.
Spalding's second novel is more focused on often-neglected family than anything else and she absolutely nails the dynamic of this odd, loveable family.More than anything else, Ink is Thicker Than Water is about family. In a world where most YA novels have awful parents or dead parents or missing parents, it can be really hard to find a "normal" family with a healthy, fun dynamic. That's exactly what's going on with the Brooks/Stone family. Even when adopted daughter Sara is getting to know her birth parents and having a crisis about who her family is and everyone else is trying to deal with that, the focus always remains on the importance and loveliness of a good family and it may have been my favorite element of the novel.
Kellie is a pretty well-developed character who sometimes comes off as a bit hipster-ish (she's rather strange when she's sneering at the idea of doing extracurricular activities) but is generally the kind of teenage girl you probably went to school with if there were teenage girls at your school. The secondary characters really got me too. Sara's conflict about her family and the way she feels insecure in her kooky family echo Kellie's own insecurities when standing next to her smart, perfect sister are wonderfully written. And Adelaide? LET ME LOVE YOU. YOU ARE ME IF I HAD A BACKBONE AND STUFF.
The romantic element of the novel is one of my less favorite bits of it. Oliver and Kellie are great as friends, but they don't work so well together as boyfriend and girlfriend. Honestly, I forgot sometimes they were even dating, but then I remembered they had sex and were going out on dates and such. Had this been more heavily focused on, it would have been a problem, but it's a relatively small part of the novel and the storyline as it plays out there is pitch perfect, so it's never in any danger of being awful. I wish Kellie didn't call Oliver crazy as much as she did, though. Yeah, he's got some mental health issues he's dealing with. Crazy = no.
It feels a little wandering and unfocused sometimes, but the family element of Ink is Thicker Than Water stay strong from the very first page to the very last, and I'm looking forward to reading Spalding's other novel The Reece Malcolm List, not to mention buying a physical copy of this one for myself. My review seems a little thin to me, but when a novel is pretty darn good like this and evades description, that's simply how it goes. It's almost always a good thing.