Tuesday 27 November 2012

Burning Blue

Burning Blue by Paul Griffin (Text)
PB RRP $19.99 
ISBN 9781922079145
Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

At the centre of this young adult novel are two troubled teenagers, Jay and Nicole who meet at the office of the school counsellor. While the reasons for their troubles could be seen as depressing, the story about them is not, lifted by the element of mystery. Sometimes quite thrilling, with plenty of action, it's a book that deals with difficult issues in a readable way and even ends on a positive note.

Jay is fifteen and lives with his alcoholic dad. He hasn't been to school much since he began suffering from epileptic seizures and is keen to keep to himself. Nicole who is beautiful, rich and smart appeared to have everything going for her until she had acid thrown in her face by an unknown assailant. Jay is gradually drawn in to finding out who Nicole's attacker was. He employs his skills in computer hacking and technology to find out information, risking serious consequences. In the process he becomes more and more involved in Nicole's life.

The short chapters are from alternating points of view: Jay's and Nicole's. Many of Nicole's are in the form of diary entries or transcripts from counselling sessions. Jay's are mostly in first person and he is a clever and likeable character. He is at the same time vulnerable (he is still recovering from his mother's death) and tough (as a wrestler he is able to physically protect himself when needed).

There are suspects galore in this mystery and it is very close to the end where we find out the identity of the attacker. But even then, the mystery is still not quite solved, not until the conclusion.

There is a lot of realistic-sounding dialogue which flows well. The mystery unfolds gradually and the end is satisfying for these characters the reader has come to care about. Burning Blue is suitable for secondary school students, male or female.   

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