While on the prowl for ‘guy books’ this week, I found a star.
“Guy books” is a sort of weird idea for me because it means that guys should like them. But girls should like them, too. When people in the book universe say ‘guy book,’ what they really mean is ‘not exclusively girl book.’
Blink and Caution is the story of two runaway teens, living on the street, desperate. We meet Blink first—so nicknamed because he is so nervous, so full of ‘Captain Panic’—that he has a tic, blinks constantly. He is prowling through a hotel, hoping to find some decent food leftover in the hallway, a room service tray put back out with lots of the meal left. Unfortunately, what he finds is a weird sort of criminal event across the hall. He doesn’t know what’s going on, but after a group of four men leave the room, Blink finds a wallet with 600 dollars and a cell phone. By picking up most of the money and taking the cell, Blink unwittingly enters into a crime that is national news.
Caution is so nicknamed because she considers herself toxic, harmful to those around her. Though the narrator doesn’t say directly why this is, as readers, we soon guess. (We are meant to guess, but Caution just can’t face telling the story). After running away from home, Caution finds herself hooked up with a drug-dealer who controls her, who beats her when he feels like it. She thinks he may kill her. In fact, she thinks she deserves to be killed. It’s a little miracle that she figures out how to run away from him, and of course, he is tailing her, actually has implanted a GPS on her clothing.
Blink finds the picture and phone number of a beautiful girl on the stolen cell. She’s the daughter of an important CEO whom all the news sources say has been kidnapped. But Blink saw him walk out of the hotel room. He decides to call the daughter and tell her that her dad is OK. Big mistake.
When Caution, having been rolled by a meth addict for all the money she took from the drug dealer, decides to steal from Blink, the two become inescapably connected and absolutely over their heads. That they have each other isn’t a given. One might desert the other, fearful of what will happen. But they both also have a sense that there’s nothing more to lose in life. By sticking together, they may learn to trust again and find their way in the world, forgive themselves for their imperfections.
Blink and Caution is super suspenseful. In addition it’s unusual in the telling, Chapters alternate between Blink and Caution. However, Blink’s chapters are told in the second person (“You lower your voice, curl into yourself.” ). It’s hard for a writer to make this work, but Wynne-Jones pulls it off. In fact, his excellent writing is one of the reasons you won’t put the book down. So if you’re a budding writer yourself, read this for a great example. If you’re not, just read it for the great, fast-action story.