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Blink Once

Blink Once

4.8 14
by Cylin Busby

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Busby's novel works both as an atmospheric mystery and a realistic portrayal of what trauma patients and their loved ones face during hospitalization. When 17-year-old West wakes up in a hospital, a neighboring patient his age, Olivia, tells him that he has been in a mountain biking accident and is paralyzed ("Sorry if you didn't already know. I'm sure you're bummed"). Using blinks—"once for yes and twice for no"—and then a whiteboard, West starts to communicate with Olivia, an intense, unpredictable girl. As their relationship turns romantic, Olivia warns West against an experimental surgery his family has scheduled, and West is simultaneously unsettled by recurring dreams about a violent man that he thinks are "trying to tell me something.... Something about this hospital, this room." Readers will race to the end of this moody, surreal book from Busby (who collaborated with her father on The Year We Disappeared) to unravel the mystery behind West's dreams and his strange connection to Olivia. They won't be disappointed by what they discover. Ages 14–up. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Sept.)
VOYA - Rachel Wadham
Strapped to a hospital bed after a biking accident, West struggles to communicate as he drifts in and out of disturbing dreams. Through visits from his next door neighbor, Olivia, West learns to accept what is happening to him, and during their time together, he slowly falls in love. A radical operation returns West's ability to communicate and move, but it does not return him to Olivia, who he finds is in a deep coma. Trying to reconcile his experiences with the nonresponsive state that his family and friends observed, West works to regain a sense of normalcy and come to terms with the fact that he will never be able to be with the girl he loves. A haunting and character-driven ride into mystery, fantasy, and reality, this book's convincing tone builds on the well documented truths of actual coma patients and their out-of-body experiences. At the same time, however, West's connection to the other patients takes us into the realm of parapsychology which adds an ambiguity to the realism that is perplexing. With the first two-thirds of the book devoted to West's time in a coma, the plot is very slow which then makes the part of the story devoted to his physical and psychological recovery seem rushed and unnatural. A mixing of genres, slow progress, and ambiguity do not give this book a clear audience; however, those who enjoy medical mysteries or the paranormal may find something to enjoy in this bleak story of star-crossed lovers. Reviewer: Rachel Wadham
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Seventeen-year-old West is in a coma after a mountain-biking accident. Because the story is written in first person, it appears that he is awake, but it slowly becomes clear that he isn't, as those who visit him respond to him as if he were not conscious. Sixteen-year-old dancer Olivia, who is also a patient at the hospital, visits him when no one else is around. She helps him communicate even though he's unable to move and sneaks into his records. She understands what he is thinking and how he feels about his situation. At the same time that West is falling for Olivia, he begins having strange, reoccurring nightmares that reveal more and more about his situation. Who is the burned man who appears in his dreams? Olivia has a secret, and readers will turn the pages frantically to reveal it, wondering what her intentions are for West. The story is haunting and will appeal to teens who like paranormal mysteries with a light love story. The simple setting allows the focus to stay on West and his emotional ups and downs. Readers will feel his frustration and understand his reaction to Olivia. Though the ending is not a perfectly happy one, it won't disappoint romantics.Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MI
Kirkus Reviews
A medical thriller offers a twist that will have readers questioning reality alongside its narrator. A young man wakes up strapped to a hospital bed, unable to speak or, initially, to move. As he drifts in and out of consciousness, the details of his former life are revealed in flashbacks, dreams and conversations (he blinks and writes on a board to communicate) with a fellow patient, Olivia. His name is West, and at age 17 he was a talented dirt-bike racer until an accident left him paralyzed. Through the excruciatingly long days of his recovery, West falls in love with the knowing, sarcastic Olivia even as he acknowledges the depths of her dark side and its root cause--her irreversible ill health. As West considers whether to participate in an experimental surgery that could either kill him or let him walk again, he finds himself at odds with Olivia, who has mysteriously strong feelings of her own about the risks. Although the first-person narration lags a bit in the middle, the last third of the novel is both briskly paced and increasingly eerie as West begins to realize that things are not as they seem. This outing is a marked departure from Busby's Date Him or Dump Him series; the twists and turns of West's relationship with Olivia provide a cloudier and more satisfying kind of suspense. (Thriller. 12-17)
From the Publisher

“Readers will race to the end of this moody, surreal book... They won't be disappointed by what they discover.” —Publishers Weekly

“The twists and turns of West's relationship with Olivia provide a... satisfying kind of suspense.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Where John's chapters provide the grim facts, it is Cylin's authentically childlike perspective that, in revealing the cost to her innocence, renders the tragic experience most searingly.” —PW Starred Review for THE YEAR WE DISAPPEARED

“This true-crime story manages to be suspenseful and reflective at the same time, and it will draw both leisure and reluctant readers.” —VOYA on THE YEAR WE DISAPPEARED

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)
HL680L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

CYLIN BUSBY is the author of several teen books and non-fiction articles as well as the acclaimed young adult memoir, The Year We Disappeared. A former editor with Teen magazine, she now lives in Los Angeles with her family.

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The Blink Once 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
Let me start by saying this is a very hard story to review without spoiling anything, but let me try. Blink Once is an emotional and mysterious story. This was an interesting premise, and I connected pretty well with West. It was definitely a journey being in his head while he is so hurt, not knowing what is real, what is a dream, and trying to piece together everything that happened to him, and if his dreams mean anything. I loved Nurse Norris, and often wondered how she could stay so positive and treat the patients with respect day after day. Olivia is such a mystery, but she is so key to the story. I love her interactions with West, how she teaches him to communicate and gives him company when others aren't there. When I figure out Mike is also a good secondary character. I appreciate how he is there for his friend and how he supports him. He can be a little rough, but his heart is most certainly in the right place. Bottom Line: Blink Once is sad, dealing with hard issues, but I like how there is hope laced in. Just a preview of the great writing by Cylin Busby, one of the quotes that have stuck with me. "Sometimes at night, when I was alone, or when I was at the pool, in the quiet stillness underwater, my mind would go to that place. To the hospital, to the people there. It was as if my heart could travel, over the miles, over the months that had passed, and I was back with her. Olivia"
RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by: Valerie Book provided by: Publisher Review originally posted at Romancing the Book Wow. This story was a page turner that sort of crept up on me as I read and by the end I just couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. It’s very suspenseful and had me trying to figure out the ending… West is in a hospital as we start to know him and struggling to figure out what happened to get him there. Every day, he’s turned, prepped, and visited by his mom. His feelings of confusion and anxiety were heart-wrenching to read and I felt that I was putting the pieces of what happened together at the same time he was. As he went in and out of consciousness, day after day, I felt sorry for him, his mom, and his friends. When his friend, Olivia, appeared, the story moved into a gentle friendship between two teenagers on the same floor in adjoining rooms. I wasn’t sure what to make of Olivia. At times she was kind but her facial features and actions left me in doubt as to her true intentions regarding West. As their friendship grew, she became selfish at times and began questioning whether West truly had feelings for her. Since I was rooting for West to get better, I was cheering as he moved from hospital to surgery and then physical therapy but wondered what would happen to his relationship with Olivia? Sometimes, I flipped back a page or two rereading a part making sure I was keeping all the facts and hints I felt I was reading in order. I was also trying to figure out all the dreams and characters that kept appearing to him while he was in the hospital and their significance. There is no way to discuss any more of the story about what happens to West and Olivia without posting spoilers. This is one I’d definitely recommend as the writing style flows along without any lags in the story and you truly want to know what happens to the characters in the end. Favorite Quote: In the tree of my life, this year was a ring dark and deep, embedded further than any other year had been or ever would be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I LOVE it! I can connect with it well. <3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finally a teen book with a fresh perspective, well-written characters, and an author who doesn't rely on swear words to create intensity and emotion. This is the best book I've read since Someone Else's Life.
ImaginaryReads More than 1 year ago
Blink Once is what I would call a contemporary story with paranormal elements. At the heart of the story is a high school boy who has been in a biking accident that leaves him in the hospital and wondering when--if--he will get out. Weaving in and out of the plot are bizarre dreams that make him questions what is real and what is a figment of his imagination. There is the beautiful Olivia, also a patient and who has her secrets. With each answer, new questions arise in a complex plot that culminates in a revelation of self-identity and the workings of the world. West has been paralyzed in an accident that he barely remembers. Everyone seems to believe that he isn't aware of his surroundings--everyone, except Olivia that is. Olivia is the only one that realizes that West is conscious, and together they form a bond out of their similar circumstances, as both are trapped in the hospital and the only company for each other. Drifting in and out of consciousness, West is barely aware of what is going on, however, and sometimes it takes time for his mind to puzzle through days and sort them in chronological order. Some things may take years to recover; others will fade out of mind. The focus of most of his thoughts are on Olivia. The two have a bizarre relationship that seems to have been born out of need. The need for someone to be there, understanding and compassionate. Someone who understands. Even when one of them gets to pushy or crosses some line, the other will be quick to forgive because they have no one else. Having broken up with his ex-girlfriend, it wouldn't have been hard for West to turn his thoughts towards the girl who is there, and Olivia is lonely, having spent quite some time alone in the hospital. I love how this story explores the unexplained. How is West having these dreams about people he has never met, and who really is Olivia? The story is told through the perspective of someone who isn't entirely there for much of the novel, so West's story isn't very credible. Nevertheless, it is incredible, unique, and interesting. This is a story that I would recommend to those who are interested in a different kind of contemporary read with supernatural elements in addition to a tad bit of mystery and thrills.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book makes you not want to put it down. Its sooo good and theres a major plot twist. Its so unexpected.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There were multiple parts of this book where I literally screamed at the top of my lungs. Until you are actually told why Olivia has been in the hospital for so long you are trying your very hardest to figure out why she was put there. I cried when I finished this book. It is so depressing and so completely unexpected. Just when yyou think you have it figured out evrrything changed on yiu. Yet at the same time it is sabsolutely beautiful and opens your eyes to so many things. I would reccommend this book to anyone and everyone. It is a mix of genres containing nodern, romance, and supeatural, so no matter what genre you enjoy I definitly reccommend Blink Once. I would hate too see this book as a movie just because it is so good a book that being turned into a movie would most likely ruin it. Cylin Busby has managed to write an extaordinary story and write it well. I would love to meet hrr so i vould tell her that myself. Sorry for the typing errors
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was told ro read this it eas amazinh totally recomeding this to other readers in my seventh grade class best book ve ever read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book so far is so amazing and i amm reading again and again afer i am done it that is how good this book !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So please read this book!:)
LibbyL More than 1 year ago
A spare, evocative thriller from an acclaimed YA memoirist. In this haunting story, we first meet West, a 17-year-old accident victim who wakes up in the hospital confused about what has happened to him, and the extent of his injuries. Luckily, there is a teen girl in the room next door, Olivia, who is more than happy to fill him in: &ldquo;You&rsquo;re paralyzed, in case no one has told you yet,&rdquo; she announces bluntly. Olivia, a beautiful former ballerina, is at once charming and terrifying, and she quickly becomes West&rsquo;s friend, the only friend he can actually count on. As his dreams and visions in the hospital grow more and more terrifying, his new friend is there to help him unravel the mystery. Is the hospital haunted? Is there a conspiracy to lock away unwanted sick kids here? And most troubling, can West and Olivia even trust their own reality, that they actually are who they think they are? A satisfying twist will have readers on the edge of their seats, asking for more, even past the last heartbreaking pages of this unique and chilling romance. Ages 14-up.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
West wakes up in a strange white room. Tubes snake out of his body, he can&rsquo;t move and there&rsquo;s something jammed down his throat. Slipping in and out of consciousness, West&rsquo;s only constant companion is a nurse that comes in to turn him and check his vital signs on occasion. His mother&rsquo;s visits have become less and less and even his friends have stopped visiting. It&rsquo;s when he meets Olivia, the girl in the room next to his that he learns he is in a hospital, paralyzed after a bike accident. Olivia seems to know exactly what West is thinking, even though their communication consists mainly of Olivia speaking and West blinking &ndash; once for no, twice for yes. Soon, West begins to rely on Olivia, even care about her, as she is the only one who seems to want to take care of him, and she&rsquo;s the only one who calms him after his bizarre nightmares. But who is this girl, and why has she been in the hospital for so long? There were several times while reading this book that I was left feeling a little discombobulated. It jumped around a lot and altered between West&rsquo;s current situation, memories of his past and intense dreams. Sometimes all of them blended into one and there were times when I wasn&rsquo;t sure which was which. The further I read, the more I realized how genius this was on the author&rsquo;s part. This is exactly what she wanted &mdash; for the reader to be just as confused as West. The writing is very strong, and though I felt the pace was a little off in places, overall I did enjoy this one. I really felt for West and Olivia, even if I did feel a little distanced from them at times &mdash; mainly because I was never sure if what I was reading was &ldquo;real&rdquo; or not. The reveal wasn&rsquo;t a surprise to me, but it was carried out nicely. While I wasn&rsquo;t completely blown away by this one, I did find Blink Once to be a well-written book of personal struggles with plenty of twists to keep you turning the pages. It is haunting and hopeful, though a little predictable.