Friday, March 21, 2014

Burning blue by Paul Griffin

Nicole Castro is stunningly beautiful, the golden girl of her school and she appears to have everything she could possibly want - a loving boyfriend, parents who adore her even though they are separated, and she is on the fast track to success.  All that changes when out of nowhere an assailant dowses her face with acid and the beauty she once has melts away with her skin and other tissues, leaving her fighting the damage from the attack - physical and emotional.  As Nicole begins to recover, her protective mother takes every step she can to protect her from the press and the pain of her recovery.  It is through her counselling sessions that Nicole meets Jay, the boy everyone calls Spaceman because he had a seizure in front of everyone during a wrestling match.  Jay has been home schooled for a few years, but now he is back because his counsellor thinks it will be good for him to get back to school before he goes away to college.

The connection between Jay and Nicole is surprising as they are not in any of the same social circles, but Jay feels a strange compulsion to help Nicole find the person who attacker her.  When Jay discovers that the attacker sent emails before the attack it provides the perfect opportunity for him to use his hacking skills to help get to the bottom of the mystery.  Of course things are never that easy, and Jay soon finds himself on the wrong side of a detective and facing mounting pressure at home because his father is keeping secrets.  As the friendship between Jay and Nicole deepens Jay finds himself facing hostility and weirdness at every turn, and when he finally discovers the truth will it really be the whole truth?

Burning blue is an interesting and engrossing novel, told from a variety of perspectives including Jay's, Nicole's, and some of the professionals involved in Nicole's care.  The shifting viewpoints could have potentially made the story very difficult to follow, but instead the shifting viewpoints allow for a very organic story, one where you never know too much because you only have the first person view of the story rather than the "viewpoint of god" approach that some other authors might have tried to use for this story.  The voices of Jay and Nicole feel very authentic, the confusion they are feeling, the doubts, the fears - neither one is perfect and yet they are also not completely flawed.  Jay in particular was an interesting character because his story unfolds alongside Nicole's, so it is a little while before you discover why he is called Spaceman.

I really enjoyed Burning blue, and there are some very serious messages in the novel that are neatly blended into the story without messages being shoved in your face - acceptance of self and the disabilities we have, that beauty isn't everything, that even people who seem successful have serious doubts, that even perfect couples have problems, that even the professionals don't get it right ... I could go on and on but I won't.  There are some touchy topics in Burning blue but Griffin handles them very well, neither glorifying them or vilifying them.  A deeply satisfying read for anyone who likes a story with real bite and conviction.

If you like this book then try:
  • The raft by S.A. Bodeen
  • Counting backwards by Laura Lascarso
  • Dead to you by Lisa McMann
  • The killer's cousin by Nancy Werlin
  • I swear by Lane Davis
  • The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen
  • Flawless by Lara Chapman
  • Locked inside by Nancy Werlin
  • Trafficked by Kim Purcell
  • Thousand words by Jennifer Brown
  • Skinny by Donna Cooner
  • Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy
  • I hunt killers by Barry Lyga
  • Girl, missing by Sophie McKenzie
  • Dead to you by Lisa McMann

Reviewed by Brilla

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