Award-winning young adult author Tim Wynne-Jones writes an anxiety-packed first chapter. In “Blink and Caution” readers might even panic as street kid Blink attempts to steal a bit of breakfast but instead witnesses a high stakes corporate crime masquerading as a kidnapping.
“How will he survive this,” readers wonder. “He is making such poor choices!”
To counter Blink’s naivete, Wynne-Jones introduces Caution, a second runaway in the throes of PTSD. Her past actions have broken her heart and she has no enthusiasm for life. Yet she sees something in Blink that energizes her and has the street smarts to help them survive.
Their chemistry explodes the plot. No wonder this brilliant thriller won the 2012 Arthur Ellis Award for best juvenile/YA crime book. Wynne-Jones hooks his readers immediately- his novel doesn’t hit the nightstand until it has been devoured.
Sure, the use of “you” in Blink’s monologue is initially off-putting. But then it works!
“A story starts to come to you in a voice,” W-J told Candlewick Senior Publicist Tracy Miracle. “I had a revelation: (Blink’s) story was in the second person because there was someone talking to Blink! I wasn’t saying you meaning ‘dear reader.’ I was using you to mean a persistent voice in Blink’s head, someone who cares for him and cannot really alter what happens to him but is there with him constantly.”
Readers know what it means to address an alter ego. The myth of “hearing voices” has been debunked; human beings dialogue with themselves to good effect. Wynne-Jones’s application of this unusual device allows readers to discover a great deal about Blink that otherwise would remain unknown.
“Blink and Caution” may have won the Ellis Award for “rich characterization, well-crafted language, intriguing use of voice and a compelling plot.” But the master craftsman reveals more than good storytelling in his novel. Because Wyyne-Jones makes readers care about his characters and their situations, he deepens their awareness, concern and understanding of their aberrant behavior.
Why do teens run away? Why might a teen attempt to steal food from a deserted hotel tray? Why does a smart girl allow herself to become a druggie’s whore? Why does the kid across the aisle on the subway stink? Why, why, why?
Wynne-Jones writes a bang up story. In the process, he opens reader’s minds to contemporary issues, including:
- Post traumatic stress disorder affects the emotional lives of youth unable to process horrific events or to forgive themselves for devastating mistakes.
- Child abuse that occurs within the safety of a child’s home can often be traced to dis-empowered mothers.
- Accidental shootings can occur at locations that appear safe.
- Accidental shootings can occur at the hands of trained gun handlers.
- Corporate criminal behavior affects families as well as misleads consumers.
Blink and Caution take hold of their circumstances and manage, with creative and intelligent effort, to climb out of their darkest holes in this sensory and satisfying cliff-hanger. Highly recommended for readers ages 14 and up. Definitely a top ten.