"I'm so tired of being here/Suppressed by all my childish fears"

Ink Exchange (Wicked Lovely) - Melissa Marr

Bullet Review:

In some ways better than "Wicked Lovely", in some ways worse. Leslie is a way cooler character than Aislinn, and I like her struggles AND the choice she makes at the end. On the other hand, super-emo Faerie boy Niall made me laugh at how emo he was while Irial makes feminist me rage. I'm also not happy how violence and possession are mistaken for romantic intentions.

2.5 stars graciously rounded to 3 (mostly because of Leslie and her final choice). While this is an OK series, it's dark and rather dull. I won't be pursuing sequels.

Full Review:

Leslie is Aislinn's friend, but she has absolutely no clue about the world of Faerie. Not that she really cares - she's too preoccupied with her alcoholic father and drug-addled and horrible brother (who drugged her and let his druggie friends rape her). What she wants most is a tattoo and to snuggle up next to the hot Emo Faerie guy that hangs around with Keenan, Asilinn and Seth. But Irial, the Dark King, has other plans.

It seems like eons ago since I read Wicked Lovely , a book that I read and mysteriously rated 4 stars, even though I distinctly remembering feeling iffy about the whole thing. I really didn't like it enough to continue, but I had heard that book 2 was better so I bought it.

Fast forward to today and I realize I need to clean out a ton of these books from my library - particularly all these sh!tty YA books. So I beebopped to my library and picked up audiobooks, because I can read them way faster than paperbacks or hardcovers.

A part of me likes "Ink Exchange" more because it is way more memorable (I barely remember the plot of "Wicked Lovely" - and for those who are thinking about starting the series here, I say go ahead, background details you need will be provided and it's about a totally different character anyway) and Leslie is a far more interesting character. In "Wicked Lovely" you think Leslie is going to be yet another Regina, a blonde, blue-eyed, popular high school b!tch:

Instead, Leslie is a bruised and battered girl. Her family is torn apart after her mother leaves - her father an alcoholic and gambler, her brother a drug dealer, who thinks nothing about setting his sister up for rape. It's tragic and disheartening. No wonder Leslie flees to "Pins and Needles" (horrible, cliched name BTW) for a tattoo. No wonder all her conversations are light and frivolous.

The problem ultimately with the novel is that it is less about the protagonist Leslie and more about the Irial/Niall dynamic. You see Irial and Niall were best buds back in the day, sleeping around, partying, that sorta thing. Only Niall grew a conscious and become emo:

I swear, I can hear Amy Lee in this picture

And Irial decided that consent was optional:

Seriously, this isn't sexy. AT ALL.

Both guys want Leslie, only Irial will be creepy and force her to go with him. Which is why Niall, Asilinn, and Keenan, the three people that know that Irial is looking at Leslie, don't tell Leslie about her stalker.

Because THAT'S gonna turn out well.

Why are we not surprised that Leslie is captured, her emotions are stripped away from her to fuel Irial and his people, and she is basically forced to do numerous things against her will - such as watch as fellow mortals are forced to have sex and are killed?

This book is unnecessarily dark, and Leslie is forced into doing things more than she makes the choices she purports she does - until the end, that is.


At the very end, Leslie decides she's had enough of Faeries and cuts off relations to both Irial and Niall. Even when Niall is all, "I am yours", she's like, "I want to be on my own, thank you very much.

While I liked the initial Niall/Leslie dynamic (it's really the only romantic relationship, as I do NOT consider Irial a viable romantic option), it's nice to end a YA book withOUT the prerequisite romance.

(show spoiler)

I would have preferred that Leslie became the Shadow Girl and REVELED in it. She rose to her position of evil and became a force against Keenan and Asilinn and Donia, forcing the Summer and Winter courts to band together against Irial and Leslie. Now THAT would have been interesting.

But instead, it's a man's story disguised as a woman's story, where the woman is coerced and forced to do things against her will. All the while being as sappy and overdramatic as possible - because if you don't have Amy Lee wailing in the background, you aren't doing it right.

Oh, and the narrator is sh!t. He sounds like a droning history professor...or economics teacher.

"Bueller. Bueller. Please save this book..."

"Ink Exchange" is not a bad book, but it's incredibly dark, dreary and more importantly: BORING. Having a slightly better protagonist and an interesting faerie mythos doesn't make up for its many faults. I'm sure many will love this, and it is better than many other faerie/pixie stories, but I can honestly say I am done with this series. I have zero desire to find out "what happens next".