August 2, 2013

Burning Blue - Paul Griffin

Burning Blue - Paul Griffin
Burning Blue by Paul Griffin
Publisher: Dial
Publication Date: October 25, 2012
Source/Format: Borrowed from Magan (Thank you!) || ARC

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. (from Goodreads)

I went into Burning Blue with only the barest idea of what the story was about. It was the best way possible to experience this thrilling novel, as I was glued to the pages. It’s not just the fact that there’s a dangerous edge to Jay’s attempt to solve the mystery. It’s also the fact that the author constantly managed to shock me, confuse me and keep me running after all the answers. I haven’t ever encountered the likes of a novel like Burning Blue before, but I’m encouraged to read more like it now.

It’s rare when I encounter a male main character that I really like. Fortunately, Jay falls under that category! He was fascinating to watch whenever he employed his expert skills as a hacker, as he’s fully confident in his capabilities. This is perfectly balanced with his awkward social skills, as he’s a loner and the type to blend in with the crowd. The fact that he was prone to seizures provided an unexpected dimension to his character. While he’s not particularly relatable, I did think he was interesting.

Though most of the novel is told from Jay’s perspective, readers are given a glimpse at Nicole’s perspective. She could have just been your typical beauty queen, popular girl cliché if the author had not decided to include her thoughts, particularly in her journal entries, so I appreciated that. Nicole seemed like she had it all, the lucky girl blessed with popularity and good looks. But there were things lurking beneath the surface of that perfect veneer that surprised me, and it helped me to feel more compassionately towards her character.

Though the characters are solidly written, it is really the story that marvels me. Though the book mostly covers the aftermath of the acid-burning incident, there was still a lot of action. The stakes were surprisingly high for Jay, Nicole and everyone included as a suspect. Clues were slowly pieced together to reveal new angles or suspects, and this was done at a pace that never made the story slow down or feel sluggish. I was wholly invested in figuring out this mystery along with Jay, but I never suspected how twisted everything could be in the end! The author definitely kept the mystery under wraps for the readers until the last possible moment.

I certainly did not expect to enjoy Burning Blue as much as I did, but after reading it, I can highly recommend this contemporary YA thriller to other readers. The clues are laid out carefully, the sleuthing wonderfully paced and when the resolution came about, it was highly unexpected. Burning Blue is one fantastic novel, with twists and turns that refuse to let you go until you finally reach the very last page. It has really opened my eyes to the endless possibilities of good YA thrillers/mysteries, and I look forward to reading more of this YA sub-genre.


  1. Oh thank you, thank you. I am always looking around for good mysteries for my teen readers. I have this one in my library but haven't read it. Now I will.

  2. Your review certainly makes me want to pick this one up! It sounds really good. Thanks for a great review.

  3. You know, I won this awhile back and was wondering if I should even bother to read it. I like that the pacing is good and things came about unexpectedly. Might have to give this a try. Great review!

    Confessions of a Vi3tBabe
    Deity Island

  4. I like it when authors manage to shock and confuse me. It always keeps you interested to find out what might happen. And yeay for male POV's!


  5. Love a good thriller. And a YA thriller is even better. Thanks for the awesome review....

  6. Oh wow this looks good. I definitely have to put this one on my TBR.

  7. Hmmm... color me intrigued. I like the idea of mystery thriller like this one and I already feel sympathetic toward this girl with her face half burnt off. I can only imagine what more I'll find to make me feel worse for her.

  8. I absolutely adored Burning Blue when I read it last year! It was a pleasant surprise for me as, like you, my expectations hadn't been particularly high and I knew very little about the overall story, but I was riveted until the very last page. While it was relatively easy to discern the truth behind Nicole's attack, that in no way detracted from my overall enjoyment of the story. I think my favourite part would have to be Jay, who I thought was an utterly charming narrator and I found his skills as a hacker fascinating as that sort of thing is rarely examined with any depth in young adult fiction.

    There are few things I enjoy more than a great thriller, and Burning Blue definitely fit the bill. I'm so happy to hear that you enjoyed it too, Alexa!


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