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.
So the premise of Blink Once sounded really enticing to me – a mix of contemporary and possibly paranormal, plus it’s an issue book. One genre I love (paranormal), one genre I’m learning to love (contemporary) and a type of book that I tend to like no matter what genre it is. Score.
The book takes place entirely after West’s accident, with the exception of a few flashbacks/memories. I was glad for this because if it covered the time before, during, and after it would have potentially been kind of tedious. West’s accident wasn’t the focus of the novel, his condition and how it affected his life was. You really can’t help but feel bad for West, who seemed like a genuinely good guy who got dealt a particularly shitty hand by life. He’s endearing enough that I found myself really rooting for him to get better. As far as the people in his life, I was fairly lukewarm on most of them. In fact, as I read I was thinking “wtf is wrong with these people?”
I’m not going to lie, I’ve thought about this situation happening to me way more than is probably normal. Waking up in bed, paralyzed from the chest down? Having to rely on a ventilator just to breathe? Having blinking be my only means of communication? Nooo thank you. I can’t imagine many things scarier than that. Quite honestly – and this is something I never say – I’d rather be dead. So it was very easy to put myself in West’s shoes and feel the terror, confusion, etc. that he would have been feeling.
I kind of figured out what was up fairly early on in the book, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment one iota. My only real complaint here is that there’s some insta-love going on, but in light of the circumstances I think it’s a little more forgivable than it would be in most books. There are lots of layers here, with West’s condition, his interactions with Olivia, and their interactions with the world around them. The characters of West & Olivia are so well written that you can’t help but get totally engrossed in their world. Blink Once is a somewhat sad book – I definitely got teary-eyed more than once – but it’s a hopeful book as well. And it made me think about serious business, which is always a plus.