Review: Broken Ink by Jack L. Pyke

Novel (112,000 words) Genre(s): Contemporary, Gay, BDSM

Carrying a tattoo on your skin no longer just comes with a risk of infection. Get the composition right, you have the latest mind-control drug on the market. It’s the sex-traders’ dream, or worst nightmare, depending on the concentrated dose of the ink—and just who’s wearing it. 

For Kiyen, the ink means he’s able to strip raw the minds of the best and worst of society. He’s one of MI7’s top killers and never more driven to select and take down a target. For Falen, the ink has ensured he’s spent his early years as a willing sex slave and low-grade empath. Hiding out in a small town and trying to bury the needs running through his body, Fal’s hoping to stay under the radar of MI7 and their specialist killers. But the ink itself has a mind of its own, wanting to ignite the natural dynamics driving a Dom and sub, so when Kiyen is forced into Fal’s small world, prejudice battles a pure need to touch. Only problem is: Kiyen’s on the run, and in a world where thought can be the worst crime of all, Fal’s in for a fight for his sanity to find out just what it is that’s making a young killer run for his life. (M/M)

What. A. Ride.
There should be t-shirts printed up that say, 'I've been Pyked.' and on the back, 'And survived… Sort of.' I'd buy one. 

My second Pyking was much the same as the first-entertaining, mind bending, kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat. Yeah, I needed a cocktail afterwards. What can I say? Pyke has a gift for mindfuckery. I formed and discarded so many theories I felt a little like my boy. 

Only less composed.

Now, it's well documented and partially accepted that I'm not the biggest fan of crazy trains. Thankfully, the saving grace of Broken Ink was the relationship between Yen and Fal was secondary. Broken Ink is much more a psychological thriller than a romance. I'm not going to try to explain the ink or this world that Pyke has developed because it should be experienced individually and there's a glossary. Seriously, anything that has a glossary to explain the terms and… you're on your own, kids. Suffice to say, Pyke gave me something I could sink my teeth into with covert government agencies, amnesia, possibly hallucinatory characters and freakish powers.

If these are triggers for you, you've been warned. I have a hard time with child abuse so I basically choked down the first three chapters (with a break), but they are vital to the plot. This alt-reality is complex with different levels of ink and powers associated with it coupled with deciphering what's truth from what's fabrication along with who knows and how much they know. Pyke weaves it all together skillfully with interesting characters. 

Yen is a survivor, though not particularly likable. He's cagey, standoffish and lacks compassion. He's also quick to anger and has a tendency to be ruthless when crossed even if  the "betrayal" is simply his perception. I suspect he's a genius but it's never confirmed. Why he reacts the way he does is completely understandable given his history and age. For him to have done otherwise would've been inconsistent with his character, but deep down he just wants someone to be on his side, to believe him, to be on #TeamYen, if you will. Why he latches on to Fal is still a mystery to me and Fal's history isn't all that much better making the two of them together… 

A couple of whackadoodles. Whackadoodles who like the word 'fuck' a little too much. Now, I'm a card carrying member of the 'Fuck is so Versatile' club, but there is such a thing as overkill. I was rolling with it as lending credence to their difficult childhoods/characterization up until the final scene where it entered ridiculous territory. There are over 500 instances of some form of the word in this book. My kindle maxed out on the fuck search. That's never happened before. Heavy handed? You decide. When it becomes a distraction during that important final scene and your readers start skimming I'd say that's not a desired outcome and I cuss like a sailor.

Why not 5 stars?

Aside from the couple things I've previously mentioned and shying away from spoilersville, I don't see the point of running; it doesn't make sense to me. There seemed to be consistenty issues with Yen's power/ink that never were explained other than them being anomalies which seemed like a cop out to me. There were sentences that I read three and four times that I couldn't make heads or tails out of not to mention SPaG errors and a couple of trivial continuity errors. But mostly it was the final scene. It dipped into melodramatic waters for me and seemed tidy, definite HFN territory here. 

Lest I leave you with the wrong impression, Broken Ink really is one helluva mind-bending, sci-fi thriller with a little bit of kink (mostly D/s in the consensual/erotic realm, dips into other areas in the non-con realm). Now, if you happen to like psychological thrillers with a couple of crazy train MCs you are going to feel like a kid at Christmas. Enjoy!

An ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest opinion.

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