Title: Burning Blue by Paul Griffin
Page Count: 288
Published On: October 25, 2012
Goodreads Rating: 4.04
Buy via: Amazon | B&N | Book Dep
Rating: 5/5 Crystal Balls
Summary: 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.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Paul Griffin certainly does not pull any punches as he explores the complexities and utter darkness of at-risk behavior, self-mutilation, terminal illness, and mental health. The plot reminded me a great deal of an episode of Veronica Mars, only with a male hacker investigating instead of a female private investigator. Jay Nazzaro is a perfectly imperfect narrator who cannot resist solving the case (or becoming emotionally involved with victim Nicole) despite his personal problems and the escalating danger. The complex, central mystery takes several unexpected turns, demanding the reader to drop everything else to completely immerse themselves in this twisted tale. This story casts suspicion on everyone, including Nicole Castro herself (it really, really does!). I will not give away the perpetrator or perpetrators, but I will say that the reasons behind the attack are just as tragic as the event itself.
The love story between Jay and Nicole had me hooked. It was incredibly satisfying to see two people bond despite horrible circumstances. There is no insta-love or even superficial attraction but an intense bond that powerfully connects two people beyond your standard romance. Their friendship is truly the heart of the story. I could definitely feel their chemistry coming off of the page. I almost wish there was a sequel just so I could see more of this remarkable relationship. Perhaps they could solve another crime together? Paul Griffin, make it happen!
Can something "beautiful" be considered ugly or can something "ugly" be beautiful? How about "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"? The question of beauty is the main idea that drives this story. Can only the "traditional" elements define beauty or is it really in the eye of the beholder? If the latter is true, do we even have the right to critique it? Is Nicole herself just a "beautiful" girl? Does Jay's long hair make him less "beautiful"? What about Angela's constant changing style? Emily's illness? Mr. Nazzaro's art reviews? Tabloid Journalism? Amateur Artwork? Pablo Picasso's body of work? These are the questions the reader needs to ask themselves while reading even though there is no right or wrong answer.
In conclusion, Burning Blue was an addictive, page-turning mystery that boasts an amazing love story and poses thought-provoking questions about inner and outer beauty.