Release Date: 25 Oct 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary
Summary: 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.
Buy It: Hardcover or Kindle eBook
Review: The beginning of Burning Blue was a little rough for me. I really liked Jay as a narrator – he was interesting and I loved his voice - but the way he told the first events as if he were there was distracting. He starts off by saying “From what I heard...” then goes on to say students were drenching Nicole in water after the incident, what the exact words she said were etc. I'm glad we got a clear picture of that huge moment considering acid being thrown in Nicole's face is the jumpstart to Burning Blue but it didn't make logical sense to me and it put a wedge between Jay and I. To be honest it made me suspect that he attacked Nicole which might have been Griffin's intention. I also wasn't a fan of Jay's 'future narrating' either. To me it's like giving spoilers away, it does nothing for me in the sense of heightening the anticipation since I find it so annoying.
I had the opportunity to see him in action—see him by proxy rather, but I’ll get to that, to him, later.
I should have figured it out right there. Nicole’s secret. Looking back, maybe I knew.
I really enjoyed that the attacker was communicating through email and that Jay was an adept hacker. Despite my slight narrating misgiving when it came to suspecting Jay, I liked that he seemed to be piling evidence against himself to start with (tech savviness, borderline obsession with Nicole, black outs, etc). Definitely enough to make you wonder if Jay is a lying narrator... haven't had one of those in a long time.
I absolutely loved how Griffin flawed and built his characters. A lot of the time, especially in YA novels, I find myself put off by the more flawed characters because they're often harsh stereotypes (for example a goth girl who no one understands with stringy dyed hair, loads of piecing, combat boots etc.) or just generally obnoxious. Griffin amazed me with his ability to skirt those stereotypes and actually create unique, flawed, believable teens.
Nicole's journals provided wonderful insight into her mind. It was really interesting to see her from Jay's point of view and then get into her own mind. I'm actually not crazy about multi-point of view books when there's a mystery involved but choosing to show Nicole's thoughts via her diary entries kept me in Jay's presence while giving me Nicole as well. I really liked that.
I'll admit that I picked this up after seeing a few people label it as romance. I'm a huge sucker for YA (non-angst) romance. I'm not sure I would haven given Burning Blue that label but the between friendship and romance relationship shared between Jay and Nicole was immensity satisfying and beautiful to follow.
The mystery... I loved how Griffin ended Burning Blue. The mystery was wrapped up beautifully with the perfect culprit. I never expected it but it made so much sense and I couldn't have been happier with how it ended. I feel a little guilty saying that but as a mystery lover it was just so great. Rating: 4½ Bites (Phenomenal, loved it -- Really enjoyed it)
Recommend me some similar mystery novels? I love cozy mysteries but I'm not crazy about police procedurals. Burning Blue was the perfect mystery set up for me and I can't find anything like it.
How much does it annoy you when people use a computer in TV shows and only use the keyboard? Glad I couldn't see Jay hack, I do think Burning Blue would make an awesome movie though.