“Blink Once” is a young adult paranormal story with a mysterious and coming of age leaning that took me by surprise in how resonant it was. The story begins with the narrative of a high school student named West who wakes in a hospital with no memory of what happened as well as having little to no ability to communicate or move. He has no bearing on how much time has passed since in the hospital, and his parents and friends share concern over his well-being. Add to his particular stay a charming girl named Olivia who rests in the room next to his. West isn’t sure of whom Olivia is, but they get on well enough to share a close bond that builds over time, even as West goes day in and day out through a series of nightmares and recollections that shake him to his core. Ultimately, West has to put the pieces together in terms of how he came to be in the hospital, what messages his nightmares lend, and what role does Olivia play in these considerations?
I definitely enjoyed reading West’s narrative through the collective book, for the most part. The story blends the personal narrative, the jarring emotional conflict, and the eerie immersion of West’s nightmares very well. I also enjoyed getting to know the collective cast of characters in the work – appreciating the intimacy of West’s confusion, anguish and gradual coming to terms with the reality around him. I liked Olivia’s character in spells as well, considering she has a very lively personality and her chemistry with West is palpable. The secondary cast of characters, including West’s family, friends, and nurses (especially Nurse Norris – I thought she was awesome) are also worth watching through the narrative. The portrayal of the hospital environment is realistic and moves the narrative along quite well.
I anticipated that the story, after a certain point, would take the turn that it did, but it made the narrative no less potent for the revelations that West has to come to terms with in a rather dark story. The narrative keeps one guessing throughout, and while I think there are certain places where Busby could’ve developed the conflict with even more intimacy, I still thought it was well done for what it had to offer. I would certainly recommend this as a story for those who like a YA paranormal narrative that keeps you guessing along the way, but also mixes a blend of coming of age/tough subject fiction in an intriguing manner.
Overall score: 3.5/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Bloomsbury.