Author: Joanne Harris, 2010.
Genre: Contemporary. Psychological thriller. Post-modern. Internet.
Other Details: Hardback. 410 pages.
'Once there was a widow with three sons, and their names were Black, Brown and Blue. Black was the eldest; moody and aggressive. Brown was the middle child, timid and dull. But Blue was his mother's favourite. And he was a murderer'.
This ambitious novel uses the format of blog entries on a site that closely resembles Livejournal (though called webjournal in the novel). It explores the fluid nature of identity on the web and the nature of fiction, fantasy, truth and lies.
Harris takes the idea of the unreliable narrator into a new dimension and as such it is a novel that requires concentration to cope with the various twists, turns and sleights of hand within the narrative as the reader peeks over the shoulder of blueeyedboy to read his public and private blog entries as well as those of other members of his internet tribe.
As always with Joanne Harris the writing was beautiful as she examines a darker side of the internet. I applauded Harris' willingness to challenge expectations of those readers who associate her mainly with lighter novels such as 'Chocolat'.
This was a reading group selection last autumn. It received a mixed reception from group members as some had expected a more straight-forward narrative or found it difficult to relate to the focus on the internet. Its format would be more familiar to Livejournal members and I also feel that it will appeal to those readers intrigued by the way in which the internet can facilitate mind games and uses of disguise.
Personally I found it a brilliant novel and loved its ambiguity and complexity.
Joanne Harris page on 'blueeyedboy' - Joanne talks about the background to the novel and there is also link to extract.