Before I begin, I want to highlight what my personal perspectives on literature are. For me, Literature provides an escape from this world and this life into another. Fantasy, science fiction, the highly impossible, and the extremely improbable are where my personal preferences and comforts lie. At the end of the day, and after watching news filled the with fear and hate and suffering that exists in our world, the last thing I want to do is read a book about the fear and hate and suffering that is occurring in our world. All that being said, I have greatly enjoyed the assigned texts for this course, especially The Shore Girl, and The Crazy Man. It is my opinion that it is the admirably high quality of writing that makes up these texts that allows their societal themes to easily overcome my personal literary preferences.For me, the vocabulary, imagery, and narrative structure are some of the devices that have allowed these previous texts and their more gritty themes to be so well received.
Blink and Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones did not overcome my personal preferences.
To begin, I felt the characters were shallow and unbelievable. Brent’s personal choice to use the nickname, “Blink,” seems to have no grounding in the character whatsoever. Brent is apparently unaware of his excessive blinking, and the excess blinking only comes to the attention of the reader when it is pointed out by other characters such as Kitty and Brent’s step father. Why have a character use a deliberate nickname if they have no relation to that name, especially when that name is an action that the character denies doing when confronted about it?
Kitty’s choice of nickname is slightly more understandable, but no less ridiculous. The connotations of the nickname, “Caution,” make sense for Kitty, who sees herself as a dangerous person after the accident with her brother. However, despite what it says in the afterward that the author’s friend experienced a similar tragedy to Kitty, this entire 342 page book was written for the sole purpose of utilizing the one line “She has thrown Caution to the wind, she thinks, and laughs.” (172) The double entendre of this line about Kitty giving up her alternate identity, as well as Kitty becoming willing to take risks, is playing entirely off of the capitalization of “Caution,” and is incredibly cliche. The line itself is so cliche it could be right off of a motivational cat poster. I felt nauseous just writing the quote for this blog.
Even without the nicknames, I was unable to read more than three pages of this book at a time due to the narrative voice and perspectives used in this novel. For reasons that were never made clear to me, everything written from Brent’s perspective was inconsistently written in the present second person, while everything from Kitty’s perspective was written from the present third person omniscient perspective. Why has it been decided that the reader is Brent, but is not Kitty? And why does Brent’s narration switch to the third person some of the times that Brent criticizes himself. The second person narrative style is known to be the most ineffective style of narration because it prescribes traits, qualities, and decisions to the reader. This can cause the reader to reject the actions and personality of the character because it is different from the reader. I did reject Brent as a character because, while the personality and actions were Brent’s, they were not my own. Further, the second and third person narrative styles only become jumbled and confusing ad down right annoying to read once the two characters are present together, causing the narration to bounce back and forth.
One thing that I did think was clever was the metaphor of an angry sea captain as Brent’s anxiety. I felt it accurately described the feelings associated with an anxiety attack. However, the captain simply vanishing instead of coming under the control of Brent seemed improbable to me. Something like anxiety, especially the anxiety felt by Brent, would have taken time to master.
Also, to me, the (almost) sex scene seemed forced and unnecessary to me. I understand that it could have been structured around he release of stress from putting the ordeal at the cabin behind them, but it seemed to me that their relationship was already cemented in their shared experience. Further, their relationship followed the cliche foil of disliking each other, working together for necessity, saving each other from danger, becoming close due to the shared experience, hook up, and then become a couple. its the same in any action movie where the action hero gets the damsel in distress in the end.
Now, I included the details about by personal reading preferences at the beginning in order to demonstrate that my dislike for this novel began with my personal preferences of reading material. Readers with different preferences and perspectives may have different feelings about this text, and I look forward for the chance to see this novel from another perspective.
On a whole, I did not enjoy reading poor narration and over used cliches about the issues of troubled teens and the adventures that their poor choices and/or circumstances take them on. If I want a story like that, I’ll listen to the grumblings of the halls of my local junior high school.