Review: Burning Blue by Paul Griffin
Source: Hardcover, Published October 25th 2012 by Dial
Verdict: Very Good
How far would you go for love, beauty, and jealousy?
When Nicole Castro, the most beautiful girl in her wealthy New Jersey high school, is splashed with acid on the left side of her perfect face, the whole world takes notice. But quiet loner Jay Nazarro does more than that–he decides to find out who did it. Jay understands how it feels to be treated like a freak, and he also has a secret: He’s a brilliant hacker. But the deeper he digs, the more danger he’s in–and the more he falls for Nicole. Too bad everyone is turning into a suspect, including Nicole herself.
Award-winning author Paul Griffin has written a high-stakes, soulful mystery about the meaning–and dangers–of love and beauty.
Narrated by high school outcast and mega-hacker Jay Nazarro, Burning Blue tells the story of an acid attack that takes place in high school- and its aftermath. Nicole Castro, the target of the heinous planned attack, has always been considered the most gorgeous girl in school; it appears that whoever did this attack was someone who hated her. Or was jealous of her. But who could have done this? And why?
When Jay and Nicole (accidentally) start becoming friends- and Nicole confiding more and more of her fears- Jay finds himself drawn in deeper and deeper into a tangled web of lies, deception, and something more than friendship. Interwoven with doctor, psychological and psychiatric assessments; conversations between Nicole and her mom; phone call transcriptions and emails; Jay’s hacking opens up multiple monsters- some deadly, some terrifying, and some devastating. I personally love reading stories that include various media, and I think the author did a great job at creating tension with this feature. Along with Jay’s terrific narrative voice, the story kept me hooked (and sad and terrified). At times, though, it did feel like a bit too much was going on in the story. Multiple arcs and lines are intersecting along with the investigation into the acid attacker- along with a few red herrings dropped here and there. It’s not as though the author doesn’t keep it all reigned it, I just felt that the main storyline almost got cluttered along the way with diversions that did not seem as integral.
Overall, I thought this novel was well-written and thoughtful, taking on some very serious, very critical topics (most of them pertinent to teens). Never turning into a lecture or soapbox on ‘beauty comes from within’, Griffin takes what that has been dealt with many times before by female narrators, and gives us something different with Jay’s male voice as the lead. Also: if you do get to this book– once you finish, try to take the time to read the author’s notes at the back.
I would recommend this contemporary/mystery title for fans of: Mariah Fredericks, Natasha Friend, Ellen Hopkins, Courtney Summers and Anna Jarzab. If you’re looking for a solid, edgy mystery that tackles some heavy-duty topics, then this is a good pick.
Note: This review, written by me, originally appeared on my old site Fabbity Fab Book Reviews. Minor edits may have been made.