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Summary: Leslie is a senior at Bishop O’Connell High School. Her personal life is a wreck: her brother uses and sells drugs (and pimps her to pay for his habit); her dad is an alcoholic; and her mother left. Now Leslie wants to do same thing. Her first step toward indepedence was getting a tattoo. What she didn't know was that the special inks required for the art she chose contain vampire blood and other netherworld contaminants that would enslave her in the spirit world. Has she traded one bad world for another? This is a Young Adult fantasy.
Type of Reading: independent reading
Recommended Age: read together: 12 and up; read yourself: 12 and up
Young Reader Reaction: Ink Exchange is a dark and sometimes troubling story about an urban teenage girl who is dealing with some very bad personal issues. I really liked the fact that Leslie, for all her hurt and vulnerability doesn’t give into the simple escapes. She is exposed to the ugly side of life, but resists becoming part of it. She is uneasy with the changes that overcome her and though lured to the dark side, stays regains her humanity. To the uninitiated, this book about faeries can be a little confusing, but the reader quickly gets swept into this mystic world with all the imagery that Marr creates. This book is for teens 13 and older. There are some mature issues (rape, drugs, some violence); and the teenagers seem to live without adult supervision. It is a great fantasy story that also has a touching romantic side. It would be a great book for high schoolers to check out of the library or as a gift for a teen who likes this genre.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a well written book. It is fast paced, and one that the reader will find hard to put down.
Pros: This nether world fantasy catches the reader’s attention from the first paragraph. It is a fast paced and exciting read.
Cons: The recommended age for this book is 12 and up. The author should raise the starting age from 12 to 14 or edit some of the more sexually explicit dialogue to maintain the 12 year old guideline.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This book genuinely entertains the reader and, as such, sustains his or her interest in reading.
Educational Themes: The value of this book is that it catches the interest and attention of young teen readers. Although written for more mature audiences, your average 10- to 12-year-old is already fascinated with the spirit world.
Notes: The Reading Tub, Inc. read an advance reader copy of this book.
Literary Categories: Fiction - fantasy, young adult