What You Need to Know: This intriguingly written tale of street kids and second chances takes a major left turn in its final third.
Summary: Blink has been living on the streets for a few months now, but has figured out that well dressed kids don't get hassled. Thus, he uses a stolen set of clothes to wander through hotels, looking for uneaten food on room service trays. When he hears the sounds of violence from a room, but sees three unharmed men walk out, he can't resist a peak. In the room he sees what looks like trouble, but the unattended wallet and smart phone presents too much temptation. When the owner of the phone shows up on the news as a kidnapping victim, Blink knows it's not true, but doesn't know what to do.
Caution, a young runaway, gets on the wrong side of her dealer/boyfriend. She has to run, from the magic man, from her past, from knowledge she doesn't want. But it all keeps finding her. She decides to run as far as she can, and sees Blink as an easy mark. The two connect in an unexpected way, and decide to use the "kidnapping" to their advantage.
Wynne-Jones has a talent for language, his prose is rich, yet light. The writing perfectly evokes a time and place, without drowning the reader in tons of exposition and description.
Wynne-Jones also successfully climbs inside the heads of his teen protagonists. They are bundles of emotion, yes, but believably so. Their choices feel organic and believable. Blink and Caution both ran away from home for legitimate reasons. They live on the streets (or with questionable adults) in a way that feels real.
What Didn't: This languished in my "to read" pile for months. Part of it was the summer slam, and part of it was it just didn't look like my kind of book. I only picked it up because it was a Boston-Horn Book Award Winner and a nominee for the Maricopa County Mock Printz Discussions.
I still don't think it's my kind of book. I will be honest -- I'm a plot reader. Beautiful settings and well-drawn characters are great, but in the end, I want you to tell me a story. And without getting too spoilerific, I felt like the plot of this book went off the rails in a major way in the book's final third. The entire focus and tone of the book shifted from a character study with mystery elements to a B-grade horror flick.
Is it Printz Worthy? Maybe. It has the edginess that Printz voters seem to like, with a strong literary flavor. What I see as a major misstep in plot, others may see as a bold blending of genres.
Who Would I Recommend this Book to? I'm not sure. The literary-ness of it would turn off teens who read genre fiction, and the genre elements would annoy my few lit fic readers.