Blueeyedboy Paperback – 31 Mar 2011
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Joanne Harris is, of course, best known for Chocolat -- a novel that brought readers quite as much pleasure as the substance after which it was named (and which became an equally successful movie). But is Joanne Harris’ authentic voice as an author the one that we hear in that book? Almost certainly not -- with Blueeyedboy, the second of Harris’ psychological thrillers, it is becoming clearer that the dark, threatening world she conveys in her second series of books is more provocative and disturbing than anything Chocolat might have led us to expect from her.
As in its predecessor, we are back in the Yorkshire town of Malbry, and in the company of a young man whose behaviour verges on the sociopathic. BB is in his 40s, still living with his mother and making his living with an unrewarding (in every sense) hospital job. His ‘real’ world is a virtual one. On a website which he has called ‘badguysrock’, he has an avatar -- and as the blueeyedboy of the title, he deals in deeply unsettling violent scenarios which feature people from his own life. As we enter deeper into this murky world, we learn other equally disturbing facts. BB has an unhealthy relationship with his mother, whose violent, controlling behaviour is some kind of a pointer to the unhappy man he has become as an adult. What's more, he appears to be the only surviving brother of a group of three. His dead brothers were named after the colours in which their mother dressed them, and had died in mysterious circumstances. There are so many off-kilter aspects to this world that readers will quickly discern it is only a matter of time before something very nasty happens.
Like Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory, Harris provides us with a narrator we cannot trust -- the only thing certain is that chaos and destruction lie at the heart of this queasy narrative. Harris’ book demands patience and does not render up all its secrets immediately, but those who respond to unusual, transgressive fiction will find it worth persevering; Harris has a mesmerising tale to tell. And be assured -- Chocolat this isn't. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Delivers an almighty twist in the tale late on...brilliantly atmospheric and at times heartbreaking" (The Times)
"An ingenious, gripping read...it terrified the living daylights out of me" (Daily Express)
"Brilliantly written, plotted and insightful...beware unreliable narrators along with a huge plot twist at the end" (Mirror)
"Engrossing psychological thriller...a novel of unusual complexity...Harris, best known for Chocolat, again shows her skill and versatility" (Mail on Sunday)
"Beautifully written...a rewarding read" (Guardian)
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Top Customer Reviews
How do I even explain? Let's give it a go: The story is narrated by B.B., a loner who spends most of his time on the internet either writing his own personal diary and telling the story of his life as he sees it and also writing fic (stories) on his badguysrock.com - a website that he created himself and attracts a whole array of misfits with their own problems. What is apparant from very early on is that B.B. had a particularly unconventional childhood with a very bizarre family around him. Switching between his private journal and the fiction he writes on badguysrock, we get to see B.B's life played out before us in all its murderous glory.
Sounds simple enough, right? The thing is, I just didn't get it. I read somewhere, before I picked this book up, that Harris started writing this and had no idea where it was going and how it would end up, and I'm afraid to say that that is the same feeling I got while reading it. I didn't get any sense of a plot or purpose for much of it and at times it felt like I was watching someone vent their spleen about.....well, everything. It felt cynical, dark and even bitter but even then I got the sense of it being on the part of the author more than the protagonist.
There were other characters in this book, one of whom - Albertine - also shares her diary entries with us and they give this books some of the unexpected twists that appear more towards the end.Read more ›
Posted at: 23:11 on Thursday 8
Listening to: Frankie Schubert and the Poxboys : String Quintet in C
This is a flawed but nonetheless compelling psychological novel. It is too long and has the potential to lose its readers. But for those who persevere through its heartbreak hill the home stretch is worth it.
On the Internet, nobody knows you are a dog - but they would do well to suspect it. Harris relates her story through the postings of two unreliable narrators on the badguysrock website, In keeping with the general ambiguity of the book, "rock" may be either a noun or a verb. Both protagonists are damaged from their childhoods. Blueeyedboy is fortysomething and lives at home with his Ma; Albertine is slightly younger and has known BB all her life. Neither is who they seem. Their web entries are either "restricted" in which case they are private journal entries that seem to be truthful, or "public " in which case they are likely to be fantasies or works of fiction ("fics") posted to entertain other members of the web community. A Greek chorus of the latter appears at the end of these entries essentially to grade them, for example: "chrysalisbaby: wish I could be there too (cries)." Fortunately these web-props are not very obtrusive and the chapters themselves are written not in trnk8d txtspk but in old-fashioned, long-hand literary prose.
In her commentary on the novel (see the author's website), Joanne Harris discusses her fascination with how many people now find their real "communities" in the virtual rather than the real world.Read more ›
'blueeyedboy' has the ring of dark truth for anyone who spends time social networking. It also seems like a natural extension of the styles she has explored in 'Gentlemen & Players' and before that, in 'Sleep, Pale Sister'. It's a cautionary and very modern story with killer twists, and if it appears to involve characters who seem motivated by something more cynical than usual, it's because the baroque formalities of the blogosphere can hide a multitude of sins. This one deserves to encourage readers who may only have explored her France- set fiction.
Users of blogging sites or social media (face it, that's all of us) should enjoy this tale with its slick, twisted depiction of virtual lives, where nobody is exactly who they seem to be, and even the evidence of the senses cannot be relied on. The author is mistress of her craft in an age where almost everyone behind a keyboard considers themself a writer, and the rest are unrelenting critics.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Its ok, I'm keeping going with it but I'm not really finding it enjoyable.Published 10 days ago by rainy
I love Joanna Harris' work and have read all her books. I am a big fan usually but I cannot get into this book at all. Read morePublished 15 days ago by sly1
Do yourself a favour, don't read this. It's a tricksy hateful mess. It draws you in interestingly, but you lose all patience with it from the first revelation on, and as for the... Read morePublished 28 days ago by terence dooley
Disappointed with this - didn't finish it which is extremely rare for me. Felt no engagement with characters.Published 1 month ago by ann thompson and derek johnson
Very strange. It took me most of the book before I understood the plot. I think it was because it was based on computers.Published 2 months ago by K.M. Gregory
A story superbly told with a brilliant, totally unexpected, twist at the end. Made my blood run cold!Published 4 months ago by Mrs. Joyce Jones
I didn't enjoy this book as some of her others. I found this book a bit confusing. I think I may have to try and read it again sometime to try and understand it!Published 5 months ago by Angela & George
I think Joanne Harris has been spending too much time on live journal, lol.Published 6 months ago by Rachel