Monday, September 12, 2011

Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones

Blink was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  A street kid just looking for a meal, Blink has stumbled onto a crime scene and ends up with one of the men's phones.  Now he's in contact with the daughter of someone who's supposedly been kidnapped.  But that's not what Blink saw.  Caution is running away from her drug-selling boyfriend.  She doesn't know where she's going.  Just away.  Blink and Caution's paths cross, and now they're both wrapped up in the disappearance of a man neither of them know, and only have each other to rely on.

There has been a lot of buzz about this book as a potential Printz winner.  I can see why people would say that.  In a sea of books that all read the same, this certainly stood out.  How many books do you read where part of it is written in second person?  It was such an interesting reading experience that you, the reader, were in Blink's place, and were being talked to directly.  I think that was the most distinct thing about this book.

While I enjoyed the story itself, it wasn't exactly ground breaking.  It was fast paced and gripping and exciting to read.  I certainly wanted to know what would happen.  For all the sadness the two characters had experienced, there was a very warm, snugly ending.  So I really enjoyed Blink & Caution, but I think most of the buzz is not about the story itself, but rather the unique style the story is presented in.

The story alternates between the points of view of Blink and Caution.  They don't meet each other until about halfway through the book.  Caution's perspective is written in third person, and Blink's is written in that very interesting and unusual second person.  Because of this, as the reader, I felt much closer to Blink, like I knew him really well.  For both characters the reason that they're living the ways they are now (on the street, involved with drug dealers) when they're still so young comes out over the first half of the book.  It's slowly pieced together for the reader.  For Blink, it's what he (you) are thinking about, while Caution remembers her childhood in flashbacks.

Caution experienced a single incredibly traumatic event that caused her to run away, while Blink's whole life was leading up to him running away.  Blink, we come to understand, probably has a learning disability of some kind.  I'm not totally sure what.  He blinks constantly (hence the name), and people have a tendency to think he's stupid, when in fact, when he chooses to focus on something, he's quite smart, as well as being resilient and...  It wasn't revealed explicitly what happened to Caution until much later in the book, but I was able to figure out what it was very early on.  Because of what happened to her, Caution doesn't feel like she has the right to live.  She's given herself a death sentence, and through her choices is slowly fulfilling it.

The ending came up very quickly.  As I was getting toward the end, I kept thinking "How is he going to wrap everything up?"  Things were not wrapped up to my satisfaction.  Many things were left drifting.  There were a lot of question I had that didn't get answered.  The ending for both Blink and Caution were incredibly tidy, which didn't feel right with the rest of the book.  I'm supposed to assume that everyone was just going to leave them alone now?  I don't buy it.

Aside from not being satisfied with the ending, I highly recommend it.  A very unique narrative style and an exciting story.

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