Reviewed by Claudia Robinson

“On the same day I changed my name, I had my first tattoo inked. A dark red star on the back of my right hand. It became a personal ritual to get a new tattoo every time I made a significant personal or lifestyle change….Every image has a story and significance to my personal mythos. A permanent outward testament to my personal revolution.” ~ Tori, Inked

With a book cover flowery with tattoo images, a title like Inked and a sentence such as the one above, my expectations of, and hope for, Renda Dodge’s book were high, but went, sadly, unmet. Instead, I was duped in to reading a tale of a woman suffering from undiagnosed borderline personality disorder and her jagged and often confusing re-immersion in to her painful and forsaken past.

Tori Lidell finds out her mother is dying of AIDS. Sadly, it is not moral duty, or familial ties that bring Tori back to the small Oregon town of her youth, but the loss of a job and the lack of any other place to go.

Bitter, jaded and cynical, Tori reminisces over her life as she remembers it, along with the support of Blake, the uber friendly creepy male neighbor who has taken a sudden and keen interest in her.

Inked reads like broken glass. Jagged, sharp, disjointed and discomposed. Every now and then a chapter would succeed in peaking my interest and hope would rekindle in anticipation of something smoother and confluent. Unfortunately it never happened, and I found myself sighing in frustration at the wasted prospect of such a fabulous premise and idea for a story.

Other than a few mentions of Tori’s colorfully inked hands and the impression they made on those in her life and a short scene in a parlor towards the end, Inked wasn’t really about the art of tattoos and the intimacy those who get and give them experience. It was about a disturbed woman lost in a myriad of blurred and confusing memories, trying to come to terms with a broken and irreparable relationship with mother.

When the book ends with Tori and her childhood molester (or Mother’s lover, not sure which he REALLY was, if not both) running off together to live happily ever after, it was all I could do to not toss the book in to the trash and demand someone, anyone, to return the time I had spent reading Inked, back to me.

That being said, allow me to add that Renda Dodge can write. She has the potential to spin a tale and capture an audience if she chooses to, but like her character, Tori, she seemed unable to tie all the loose ends together to form a final product worthy of her abilities. Perhaps this subject was a little too close to home to be written subjectively. Sometimes, that which we are the most familiar with ISN’T the ideal muse after all.

Rating: 1.5/5

Claudia lives on beautiful Cape Cod with her husband and two children.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Renda Dodge. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.