Nancy Drew You Are Not: Ink and Ashes by Valynne E Maetani


Claire Takata has never known much about her father, who passed away when she was a little girl. But on the anniversary of his death, not long before her seventeenth birthday, she finds a mysterious letter from her deceased father, addressed to her stepfather. Claire never even knew that they had met.

Claire knows she should let it go, but she can’t shake the feeling that something’s been kept from her. In search of answers, Claire combs through anything that will give her information about her father . . . until she discovers he was a member of the yakuza, the Japanese mafia. The discovery opens a door that should have been left closed.

So begins the race to outrun his legacy as the secrets of her father’s past threaten Claire’s friends and family, newfound love, and ultimately her life. Ink and Ashes, winner of Tu Books’ New Visions Award, is a heart-stopping debut mystery that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page.

Source: GoodReads

Three DNF’s in the span of two days.

I need some comfort food people.  Something that doesn’t have wheat in it, which is limited to pretty much nothing save for cabbage rolls and they don’ t have cabbage rolls where I live and I can’t afford to by them from Foodie Direct.

I hate my life.

Unlike the other books I’ve DNF’d Ink and Ashes is a contemporary and I actually read more than a hundred pages on it.  However, after I got to about 120 pages and the plot and the tone didn’t pick up or developed.  I decided to call it a day.

Some background on this book: it’s been on the shelf for about a year.  It hasn’t’ been read because…I don’t know.  The premises certainly looks interesting—Japanese Mafia, a POC Nancy Drew, and there are some award looking things on the cover.

Disclosure about the awards: I read on a review on GoodReads that the awards were issued by the publisher so I was kind of like—eh.

The only thing that this book really has for it is that there is diversity present.  I could see that the author was trying to use the MC’s culture and heritage to some degree in this book.  However, I read a certain quote and all those points on culture and diversity went insta bye-bye.

Want to know the quote:

APM: Axis Powers Meeting, a meeting used for strategizing and discussing important things.  When Parker and Nicholas were in the sixth grade, they learned about three countries that had joined forces during World War II.  They then dubbed our three families the Axis Powers, and it had stuck ever since.  Nicholas and Fedele Russo were the Italians; Forrest Langford represented the Germands; and the Takatas—Parker, me, and Avery—were the Japanese. (pg 40)

I don’t think there needs to be much explanation how this quote could raise a few eyebrows, and to be fair in the next paragraph the main character goes into how when she was in the sixth grade she learned that the Axis powers were Satan incarnated and all that jazz in the sixth grade.  But still.

I couldn’t buy it, that one would not know the basics of WWII before they entered the sixth grade.  God knows, there’s enough fictional and non-fictional stories about the period out there to know the basics—even if you don’t fully comprehend some of the atrocities that occurred one probably realizes that hmm, Axis powers in WW2 not good.

Plus, as someone from German decent whose immediate relatives all immigrated prior to the war it still grosses me out that I probably have relatives out there who supported a fascist serial killer.

I couldn’t imagine wanting to be called something in reference to his rule.

Anyways, besides a very cringe worthy quote, the book suffers from characters who act about five years younger than they are.  Sprinkled throughout the book are letters that Claire has wrote to her dead father.  Most of them were written in the past two years—the youngest one I got to was when Claire was 15.  The letters read more like a seven-year-old than a fifteen-year-old.  There was one where Claire was griping about having to apologize to someone and I was like, really she’s a teen she’d have other things to complain about especially in a YA book.  There’s also the character of Avery who is supposed to be like ten or twelve based on the book’s timeline, but acts like he’s about five.

For this books sake, I really think it would’ve helped it had the characters been aged down and made middle grade.  Though who knows, maybe there was more mature stuff that took place that I didn’t spare the time to read about.

There’s a set up for romance which is about as bland as the Nancy Drew series.  Other than the blandness of character development and characters, there’s nothing really Nancy Drew about this book.  The mystery, is the character’s first and honestly could be solved by having better communication with the adults.

Anyway, I side eyed it a lot.  And there’s only so much side eyeing I could do.

Overall Rating: A DNF of the one star persuasion.  There were a lot of things about this one that made me cringe, and I feel that it was more of an objective than subjective DNF.

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