by Cylin Busby
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
West is a high school senior who has everything going for him until an accident leaves him paralyzed. Strapped down in his hospital bed, slipping in and out of consciousness, West is terrified and alone. Until he meets Olivia.
She's the girl next door-sort of. A patient in the room next to his, only Olivia can tell what West is thinking, and only Olivia seems to know that the terrible dreams he's been having are not just a result of his medication. Yet as West comes to rely on Olivia-to love her, even-certain questions pull at him: Why has Olivia been in the hospital for so long? And what does it mean that she is at the center of his nightmares? But the biggest question of all comes when West begins to recover and learns that the mysterious girl he's fallen in love with has a secret he could never have seen coming.
(synopsis from Goodreads)
This was a book that should have been interesting and engaging. But it failed to draw me in emotionally, and so I can't get that worked up about anything that happened during the course of the story. It didn't help that the writing and editing were not that great, and these two things kept drawing me out of the flow. I kept getting tripped up by sentences that didn't seem to make any sense; I'm not sure if the author was going for a stream-of-consciousness thing, but these rambling musings just seemed like comma splices to me, and they messed up the syntax of a lot of the sentences. There were also some weird tense shifts throughout the book. Some were intentional. Some seemed more like outright mistakes that should have been caught by an editor. And, finally, West is a junior, not a senior, a fact that's mentioned numerous times throughout the book. I don't know why the synopsis says he's a senior.
Then there was the whole deal with West and his accident. There was a lot of medical-type information in the book, and you could tell that the author had done some research on the subject. However, in places there were not enough details. For example, we're not given quite enough information about West's condition in the beginning. We know he's paralyzed, strapped to a bed, and has a tube to help him breathe. He resorts to communicating by blinking, because of the breathing tube. I assumed that that meant it was in his mouth. But it wasn't. He'd had a tracheotomy, which led me to wonder why he had to blink to communicate with Olivia. I know that not everyone can read lips that well, but surely most people can tell the difference between "yes" and "no". Maybe this was all so the book could be called Blink Once.
I was very disappointed by the characters and their relationships. For the predicament that West finds himself in, he seems awfully stoic about the whole situation. Would a 17-year-old boy really be that calm about the prospect of spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair? And then there was the relationship between West and Olivia. I kind of suspected Olivia's secret for a while, so it wasn't that much of a surprise. It also didn't have that much of an emotional impact for me (possibly because I'd seen it coming from so far away). And the ending was just... blah. There are things that West could have done (or even seriously considered doing) that would have brought up some interesting ethical and moral questions. As it was, the ending was convenient, trite, and a little bit sappy. What came out of West's narration in the last few sentences just didn't ring true.
While some parts of the premise reminded me a little bit of Rear Window, it wasn't anywhere near that interesting or exciting. The mystery part of the plot felt a bit like an afterthought; had that part been expanded a little more, it might have made for a better story. Though, ultimately, when you can't connect with the characters, there may not be much that can be done to make you like a particular book.
Overall: 2.14 out of 5