cover image Burning Blue

Burning Blue

Paul Griffin. Dial, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3815-7

The idea of finding beauty and value where most see ugliness and ruin runs through Griffin’s novels, and he brings that theme into sharp focus in this chilling, of-the-moment mystery. After popular and gorgeous senior Nicole Castro is sprayed in the face with acid in the halls of her New Jersey high school, 16-year-old Jay Nazarro, a closeted hacker with epilepsy, is determined to uncover who is behind the attack. The brunt of the narrative follows Jay’s investigation, as well as his developing relationship with Nicole, while interspersed entries from Nicole’s diaries, her shrinks’ notes, and e-mails from the perpetrator add depth (yes, there are red herrings, but as Jay discovers, nearly every potential suspect has a secret). Jay is an accomplished hacker—he’s not infallible, but he could hold his own in a Cory Doctorow novel—and tech-obsessed readers will love seeing him adapt cellphones, computers, and Web sites to his advantage. As always, Griffin (Stay with Me) fills his story with fascinating, distinctive characters whose interior and exterior struggles are closely entwined. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kirby Kim, William Morris Endeavor. (Oct.)