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Blue Eyed Boy is a novel from the popular author Joanne Harris, the author of "Chocolat" (turned into a film starring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche). As with many of Harris' books this one is written from several different points of view, the real twist comes from two characters actually writing from four different viewpoints between them.
The story starts with the character "blueeyedboy", an internet persona who posts on a web journal called a "WeJay". Each section is started with a box similar to that of an online blog, it notes the author, whether the entry is public or restricted (something you have to check as the story develops otherwise you may become a bit confused), what they are listening to and their mood. Each "public" chapter also ends with comments left by other online personas that follow the WeJay.
Blueyedboy is one of three boys whose mother assigned them different colours in order to make buying clothes for them easier; Nigel the eldest was given black, Brendan was assigned brown, and Benjamin had blue. As the story develops you quickly learn that colour is a major running theme in this story as every person is assigned a name that relates to a colour; "Mrs Electric Blue", "Emily White", "Doctor Peacock". The colours are specific to the development of the character and their persona, for example the name "Emily White" suggests a young girl, the character is around six years old so this fits perfectly. "Doctor Peacock" gives you a vision of an intellectual professor type who collects things and has an old-fashioned mentality. As the book moves on you realise how well these names fit the characters. Blueeyedboy is very much an anti-hero, he's manipulative and scheming and has little to no empathy. However when you realise just how abusive his mother is you feel a bit of sympathy for him (although it's sympathy that won't last long!) and his situation.
The community that "blueeyedboy" posts on is called "BadGuysRock" and it is here that he posts little murder-mystery stories written from his perspective. The other members leave their comments on the stories, and in his restricted entries we learn more about his "fans"; a woman obsessed with her celebrity crush, a troll masquerading as a religious fanatic who insists the author will burn in hell, an overweight girl that yo-yo diets and falls for abusive men, and a commenter whose comments are repeatedly deleted.
The story follows multiple murders, all published as public stories on the web community. It is only through blueeyedboy's restricted, non-public posts that the connections are made and the real story unravels. About a third of the way in he is joined by "Albertine", who tells her own side of the tale in a similar way. Her public stories are not about murder, but are instead posted from the view of a small blind child called Emily White, and again they are explained and unravelled through both her private postings and those of blueeyedboy.
Having read quite a lot of Harris' previous works I'm used to her adept juggling of different viewpoints. However this time I struggled. The use of public and restricted-viewing posts threw me off once or twice, you really do need to read the top of each chapter carefully so you know what you're meant to be reading. Four different viewpoints is a little too much for one book, especially when you throw in a whole host of additional characters, quite a few of which have names related to the colour blue and thus eventually blur in to one big (blue) blob. It makes for a very good story, but it's not the kind that you can read when you're tired and not fully concentrating because you really do need to pay attention to what you're reading.
However the book does include one of Harris' usual big twists and that makes it all worthwhile!
I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who has read Harris' previous works. For a new reader however it may not be the best tale to start with, the jump from viewpoints can get a little tiring and if you're not used to her style of writing (and knowing that sooner or later she's going to shove in a decent twist that surprises you) then you might end up giving up on the story early on. Stick with it however, the ending will make your spine tingle!
I am a fan of Joanna Harris and have read most of her other novels. Blue Eyed Boy is definitely written in her style, beautiful, poetical descriptions of colours, sounds, feelings and smells. It very much reminded me of Chocolat, where Harris paints the tastes and smells of the different chocolates. There are twists to Blue Eyed Boy's story, you are unsure if the central character is a broken man who is murdering his family and people he knows who have upset him, or if he is fantasizing the whole thing. An online blog and 'bad boyz' chat room plays out the murders. We learn about Blue Eyed Boy's mother, is she really as controlling and wicked as he makes out, or is this part of his intricate story?
The words flow and carry you from page to page, I was reluctant to shut the book. This is a very different subject to her other novels, but it is definitely Harris's penmanship. If you enjoy her work, you will not be disappointed, a true wordsmith at work.