Review: Blue-Eyed Boy by Joanne Harris

Being always (and perhaps unfairly) wary of TV book club recommendations, I approached this novel with a certain amount of trepidation. However, within the first few lines, I was proved completely wrong. The story is of a 42 year old man, still living with his mother. Considered a ‘freak’ and a ‘queer’ in reality, B.B immerses himself into the world of online blogging, where he feels welcome – wanted even, and through which he reveals his life and his somewhat murky ties with the other members of the website. The novel is a dark but fascinating thriller, full of murder and intrigue and enough twists and twirls to keep you turning pages the whole night through.

Harris’ vocabulary is nothing short of inspiring, awesome, amazing. Her ability to use words and twist language is fascinating, giving the reader many of those ‘huh’ and ‘fancy that’ and ‘oh yeah’ moments – from her ability to split words into parts making them mean something completely different to her methods of associating a sound, a smell, a feeling to individual words, an association that makes so much sense once it‘s put in front of you. There is such a thorough and full use of the latter technique that it makes you wonder whether Harris herself is indeed a synaesthete. Her use of adverbs, furthermore, is absolutely brilliant, with pretty much every verb having its own descriptive term tagging along. It is easy to think that this would bog down the narrative too much but actually it works, making the story detailed and the writing beautiful. Her use of colours to describe words, actions and even people portrays emotion and feeling to the reader and works tremendously well in giving the reader a ‘whole picture’ and a judgement of a character before they have even been fully introduced.

The plot itself is interesting, with enough cliff-hangers and (equally importantly) enough little revelations to make you want more, to make you want to devour the book completely. About two thirds of the way through, it does get a little confusing – especially with the first person narrative swapping in quicker succession than before but I think that this adds to the atmosphere of online blogging blurring the lines between fact and fiction and reading only what someone chooses to post, with different opinions being thrown into the mix. The ending, as well, is a touch confused but is left open for the reader to create their own endings, their own version of reality. Did B.B do it? Or Ma? Or was it simply a concoction, created for badguysrock?

Overall, the book is well written, well thought out and highly recommended. The beauty of her narrative style has inspired me to track down other works by Joanne Harris.

Review originally posted on Goodreads.

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