three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
53-July-Aug-2011
user_rating: 
0

missing imageTim Wynne-Jones is the author of more than 20 books for children and adults. He lives in Ontario, Canada, and teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

The Story: A homeless teenage boy nicknamed "Blink" (for an eye tic) is scavenging for food at a posh Toronto hotel. But when he tries out a pilfered key card, he comes across a meeting between a group of terrorists and a prominent CEO. Blink becomes a target not only because of what he knows but also because he has stolen the businessman's cell phone as well as money from his wallet. Just as readers become embroiled in Blink's story, they are introduced to Caution, who has her own perils to worry about as the "arm candy" to a drug dealer nicknamed Magic Merlin. In the plot twists they must endure to survive, Blink and Caution at first seem like enemies, but over the course of the novel they become a pair of memorable adolescent allies.
Candlewick Press. 352 pages. $16.99. ISBN: 9780763639839

Publishers Weekly 4 of 5 Stars
"I loved [Blink & Caution]; it's certainly one of [Wynne-Jones's] best novels yet, if not the best--which is saying something. ... What really struck me about this novel was how fresh the voices are, and how skillful the crafting. Although there is something contrivedly cute about the matched nicknames, they fit the characters, who otherwise have so much real, complicated, raw, funny, awful, hopeful, lovable struggle about them that they overcome the contrivance." Elizabeth Bluemie

Globe and Mail (Canada) 3.5 of 5 Stars
"This book would appeal equally to both genders, a formidable accomplishment given the divide created by current young adult trends. While not all of the author's literary experiments are successful, they are compelling and original. Despite the gimmicks and occasional heavy-handedness, Blink and Caution captures the alienation of adolescence and the painful process of becoming oneself, in a time fraught with complications and chaos both from within and without." Ibi Kaslik

Quill & Quire 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Veteran children's writer Tim Wynne-Jones paces Blink & Caution like an express train that seems ready to derail at any juncture. But, like an expert crime writer, he offers enough detail and downtime to allow readers to care deeply for his titular characters. ... Blink & Caution succeeds because Wynne-Jones displays tremendous empathy for his dynamic duo. The pair's shared adventure will linger in the minds of readers." Sarah Weinman

National Post (Canada) 3 of 5 Stars
"[Blink & Caution] fulfills its contract with the reader in maintaining suspense virtually to the last page. I'm not so sure about the credibility and likeability of the two main characters, however. They just miss coming alive. We know what their problems are--bad step-father, traumatic guilt--and we know what sets them in motion, but there's a hollowness in their characterization, and we never quite feel the pathos of their situation." Philip Marchand

Critical Summary

The aspect of Blink & Caution that critics most admired was Wynne-Jones's ability to construct a thriller that grips readers from the start. Homelessness, drugs, violence, terrorism--there is no question that the threats the young protagonists face are real. But reviewers were not unanimous about whether Blink and Caution themselves rang true. Some felt that the pair were perfect protagonists for a YA novel: characters whose emotional development is similar to most teens but whose immediate problems are much larger. Other critics, though, felt that the characters were like their nicknames--just a bit too gimmicky.