Thursday, December 13, 2012

Blink Once

Author: Cylin Busby
Author's Website:
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Agent: Brenda Bowen
Editor: Melanie Cecka
Released: September 4, 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: No
Source: Library

West wakes up in a hospital bed, being rotated by a nurse, unable to move or speak. The nurses and his family and friends who visit don't seem to be able to understand him, but Olivia does - beautiful, former dancer Olivia who is the patient in the next room, who comes up with the system of blinking once for yes, twice for no, and gives West a pen and whiteboard to write on so they can communicate. She always knows what he wants to say even when he can't say it. And slowly, over the stolen time they spend together, Olivia and West fall in love. But then West is moved to another hospital for surgery, and he recovers his physical capabilities. And that's when everything falls apart. Who is Olivia, really? And what's the connection between her and the dreams she claims are ghosts of previous patients haunting West?
I love the tone of this story. West doesn't actually talk while he's in the Wilson center, but we get to know him fairly quickly by the way he tells the story, even without seeing him interact with Olivia. He tells the story with a sort of dry humor, but at the same time he's very serious and somber. It's an interesting mix.

The way the story moves from West's current experiences to his dreams and memories is really great. The tense shift from past to present in his dreams and memories makes his inner stories more immediate, which adds to the effect of the fog West is in while he's hospitalized. And the way they're interspersed at matching points, the way the end of each dream matches what's going on in real life, really made me wonder what the significance of his dreams are, where his memories are going to take him...

The mystery (mysteries, really) of what is really going on is really compelling. How does Olivia get away with everything she does, visiting West, stealing files from the nurses' station...? Who are these people West is dreaming about? What happened to the patient who was in his room before West, and is he connected to West or Olivia in any way?

It's really powerful when West recovers and finds out the truth about all this. Accepting the truth is hard for him, but I love how it affects him and how he manages to go one from there. Recovering and going back to normal life is hard enough, but it seems that experiencing this added bit of strangeness actually helps him get back on his feet mentally and emotionally, regardless of what everyone else thinks.

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