Harris, Joanne - 'Blueeyedboy'
BLUEEYEDBOY is a difficult book to describe, mainly because it doesn't fit neatly into any usual crime fiction pigeonhole, as with all of Joanne Harris's books. It features blueeyedboy, the on-line name of BB, which he uses for his on-line blog called 'bad boys rock'. The blog is dedicated to 'villains throughout the fictional universe' and has about a dozen followers. In real life BB is 42 and still lives with his mother, a highly controlling personality who insists on making her son drink daily vitamin drinks of her own making, and may have violent tendencies of her own. On the blog, BB writes about his life and murders he has apparently orchestrated, including that of older brother Nigel, who dies in a car crash, at the start of the book, and we learn that BB is now the last of three sons still alive.
Blueyedboy's blog not only covers his apparent murders, but the story of his childhood. He has a rare form of synaesthesia, in which colours have very strong associations with smells. When this is discovered, he becomes a research subject for Dr Peacock for a time. His visits to Dr Peacock make him feel important and open his eyes to a type of life very different to that with his poor struggling, divorced mother. But then Emily White usurps him. She is the daughter of an artist and a musician, born blind, but apparently able to 'see' music in colour. BB knows her because his mother used to clean their house when he was a young boy, but he thinks her gift is a fake.
Is Emily White the Albertine featured on the blog, who not only comments on blueeyedboy's blog posts, but writes quite a few of her own? Is she the girl in the red coat that BB is in love with, but who is actually Nigel's girlfriend? What is the lie she told when she was young, and how did it influence her life and that of those around her?
The book is cleverly written. A trail of clues is left dotted about, but they often seem incidental and only later does their relevance become apparent. None of the major characters, however, are particularly likeable, in fact rather the reverse. BB is irritating, self obsessed and covert even in his on-line persona. One can feel a bit more sympathy for Albertine, but even she does not seem like an innocent blameless victim. Everyone has their own selfish, and sometimes perverse motives. Unfortunately, this can make it difficult to really care about what happens to any of the characters in the book. But the idea behind the story, of the lies and stories made up by the on-line personas and their stark contrast to the reality that is gradually revealed, is an interesting one, and if you like Joanne Harris's books, then you'll like this one.
Michelle Peckham, England