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Burning Blue Hardcover – October 25, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up-Griffin has upped the ante with this engrossing page-turner that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. He retains his penchant for characters who are broken and battered by the vicissitudes of life and who struggle to find meaning and happiness. However, no matter how tragic the situation, he injects a poignant humanity and hopefulness into the most desperate of circumstances. Readers meet Nicole Castro, who is beautiful, brilliant, and popular. Her life completely changes the day that her perfect face is deliberately marred by acid. Classmate Jay Nazarro is determined to discover the perpetrator of this heinous and violent attack. A computer geek, Jay has become a recluse due to the humiliation he suffered when he had a seizure in front of the entire student body. The two form a tenuous alliance, searching for motives and possible suspects. Alternating narratives, email messages, journal entries, and therapist notes chronicle Jay's investigation and the shocking unraveling of the truth. Jay's snarky bravado, biting commentary, and personal anxiety provide an excellent counterpoint to Nicole's piercing, heartbreaking inner dialogue. These realistic portraits will resonate with readers, who will appreciate this story on many levels: as a psychological study, social commentary, a puzzling mystery, or tender romance. Allusions to Picasso's Girl in Front of a Mirror should send readers off to explore this contemporary art classic. Another stellar offering from this talented author.-Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NYα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Hacker Jay Nazarro meets Nicole Castro in the school psychologist’s office and is drawn to the mystery behind her bandaged face. Who would have reason to squirt battery acid on one of the school’s most beautiful and well-liked girls? He secretly begins using his tech skills to uncover the answer and, in the process, finds many suspects. The story unfolds mostly through Jay’s first-person narration, supplemented by Nicole’s journal entries, online chats, e-mails, and other tidbits brought to light by Jay’s hacking. Jay’s embarrassing public seizure two years earlier earned him the nickname Spaceman by his less-than-empathetic classmates, prompting his counseling sessions and his homeschooling with an often-absent art-critic father. As he and Nicole become friends and dig deeper into the crime, the danger ramps up, as does the introspection and emotional tension. A connection to Picasso’s Girl before a Mirror is nicely integrated into the plot, whereas Nicole’s secret, hinted at in the title, is less so. Teens will burn through this smart mystery quickly. Grades 8-11, --Cindy Dobrez
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Books; First Edition edition (October 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803738153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803738157
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #891,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kelli of I'd So Rather Be Reading on December 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I saw this book on my library's New Releases shelf and based on the summary and cover, decided to give it a try. I'd never heard of it, or read anything by Paul Griffin before, but was really intrigued by the summary. I'm so glad I read this book: it was a great, powerful, emotional read!

Several years ago, I read and fell in love with Justina Chen Headley's North of Beautiful (read my review here). I think I've been looking for a book to rival North of Beautiful ever since then, and Paul Griffin definitely has a contender in Burning Blue.

Nicole is the most popular and beautiful girl in school. She is loved by many, but also a target of jealousy. The girl is practically perfect: who wouldn't be jealous? One day at school, an unknown attacker squirts her in the face with acid. Nicole's plight and subsequent disfigurement becomes her defining characteristic, as the story of her attack becomes public. The police have very little information and have not found the attacker. The entire town is speculating as to who did it, and Nicole is followed by photographers trying to get a look at her burn.

Jay and Nicole meet by chance outside the school counselor's office. Nicole is in mandatory counseling to facilitate an easy return to school after her recovery, and Jay is in counseling since he had an epileptic seizure in front of the entire student body at a pep rally freshman year. He's been homeschooled since then, but the counselor and his father decide it's time for him to return to school. Nicole and Jay become friends, as they both are struggling with huge issues and a change in the way the world sees them.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Liviania VINE VOICE on October 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the books I picked up at TLA. The publicist told me she was excited about the new Paul Griffin, "of course," and I admitted I'd never heard of him. She handed me an ARC of BURNING BLUE so that I could rectify my mistake. I am very happy she did, because BURNING BLUE is a terrific book.

Now, don't confuse BURNING BLUE with MY LIFE IN BLACK & WHITE. Both feature beautiful girls being disfigured, have color titles, and were published by one of Penguin's young adult imprints, but have little else in common. BURNING BLUE is a thrilling mystery, not an introspective character study. Someone threw acid in Nicole Castro's face, and Jay Nazarro wants to know who. That's right - despite the girl on the cover, the narrator is a boy.

Jay is returning to public school after two years of being homeschooled after a video of one of his epileptic fits went viral. He meets Nicole in the school psychologist's office - they're in a swanky school district - shortly after the attack. The two become friends, after a rocky start, initially attracted by someone else who has issues being looked at in public. I absolutely loved their relationship. It's a little sexy, as there is obviously something between them, but it stays platonic. Above all else they become friends. Friends with the potential for more, yes, but it's a very sweet friendship and feels more authentic than an actual romance would.

Jay is pretty compelling on his own, as any good detective should be. I'd read a series about hacker detective Jay Navarro. He's good looking, but too socially awkward to notice or do anything about it if he did. He's willing to stand up to bullies, even if it means his own reputation takes a dive. But he isn't perfect.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kaity on February 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
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.
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