Title: Blink Once
Author: Cylin Busby
Pub: 2012; Bloomsbury Children's
Genre: Young Adult
Etc: Props up to NetGalley and Bloomsbury
Trapped in your body
Others might be surprised that you can
Hear life around you.
Holy geez, be still my heart! I DEVOURED this book. In all honesty, I can't recall the last time I was caught off guard by a book in such a way. Not only did the plot unravel in a way that I couldn't step away from, the story grabbed my heart and treated it like a puppet, fully mastering maneuvers to make me sigh, yearn, and appreciate my life.
Blink Once is told from West's point of view. He awakes unable to move his body and no recollection of what's going on. Nurses come in and out moving his position on a bed and he finally realizes that he is in a hospital. His mind is active but he cannot communicate. Stricken with terror, he moves in and out of consciousness.
Worst. Nightmare. Ever. Right? I consider this to be worse than death - consciousness trapped in a body that cannot express itself. The panic. The despair. Reading West's inner dialogue filled me with anguish. Emotionally, I was gasping for my own breath.
West is alone through this turmoil for what seems like months, until one night the girl in the adjoining room pulls her feeding tube mechanism out of her cave and comes to visit. Olivia realizes that West can't communicate but that he's there, so she devises a system of blinks to correspond. West immediately latches onto this connection.
Olivia is able to sneak a glance at West's file and tells him that he hurt his spinal cord and that there is this experimental operation that possibly might give him movement.
Through all of this, West is having nightmares which he discusses (through blinks) with Olivia. Olivia believes that the hospital rooms might be haunted. There was a previous boy who was in West's room, a burn victim, he was removed with no follow up. Olivia assumed that the boy died and maybe the other nightmare-ish visions are telling West about other patients.
Blink Once has been described as both a paranormal story and a love story. I found it to be neither. There were elements of paranormal, and maybe it's because of my own opinions of the genre, that I wouldn't include it. Blink Once felt REAL; paranormal strikes me as fanciful and imaginative. Also, although West and Olivia supposedly "fall in love" with one another, I didn't really buy that. I wouldn't categorize this as a love story at. all. What West and Olivia have between each other isn't really love but it's more than friendship. It's binding, but hardly romantic. I think that it tries to be, but falls short for me. And you know what? I'm OKAY with that. I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much.
And here's another thing...halfway through the book I kept wonder how it would end. Would it fall short? Would it reach its aspirations. And you know what, it mostly did. There were parts that made me feel the plot line was rushed, and you know, a wee bit unbelievable. BUT it was never the part that someone would expect to be unbelievable. All of THOSE aspects I bought hook, line, and sinker.