11 May 2010


Having been told by his medical team that he must rest for the next 4 to 6 weeks, I thought writing this review might keep Himself out of mischief - at least for a while. Please feel free to argue with him if you have read the book and have a differing opinion - he won't bite (well only a slight nip) and enjoys a good debate.

Blueeyedboy – Joanne Harris
DoubleDay March 2010.

This book is the second of my Easter week purchases, in an attempt to lift my head from the text books. Having spent much of the last 3 months trying to understand the theory of Free Will I was hopeful of something not too challenging to enjoy.

Having read and enjoyed Chocolat a few years ago (Post-cinema and theological discourse on Christ as chocolate) I had not otherwise read anything by Joanne Harris and was looking forward to a similar journey. But Woe! The brief newspaper reviews I had seen and a snatch of TV interview with the author, which had whetted my appetite, enticed me to engage, were to disappoint.

“Blueeyedboy is a pointless, plotless, incoherent mess.”
Emma Thompson –
Amazon Customer Reviews, from a confessed Harris fan.

This is a fairly concise summary of my feelings about the book, sadly witnessed after the fact. Part of the attraction to the book was that it is in form presented as blog entries by the eponymous Blueeyedboy, with occasional comments from his regulars and the occasional blog post from one or two of them to provide some externalised perspective. Therein the first level of disbelief is suspended as we begin to see a story of familial breakdown, child abuse and its collateral damage. He presents this for us as a fictional account, a blog of creativity albeit written as biography; the pattern of his psychopathy, smelled, seen and heard indeed experienced through his avowed synaesthesia . This does bring forth an intrigue which takes the reader into the first third of this book which is a dark tale, presented by its Freudian central character, planning and plotting the demise of those who get in his way.

Where this story becomes hopelessly lost for me is in the format of blogging as a narrative tool. I take it that Harris is fascinated with the world of blogging but only as a means by which she can examine a deeper fascination with identity, personality and the masks that people wear. The Internet is of course a pace wherein we can adopt and adapt the personae that we are or would wish to be with all of the limitless anonymity, fantasy and creativity it can afford. And here is where the characterisations in this story become hopelessly lost. Once “the big twist” is revealed, (not really, saw it coming a mile off), the rest of the book becomes formulaic without interest and I refer you to Emma’s comment above. Having been invited to suspend our disbelief, the notion that the story is not fictional but biographical coupled with our now natural distrust of our narrator leaves us with no-one or nothing in this tale in which to invest our interest. As it rolls on and we discover that other characters in the book are not who or what they may or may not have promised to be it simply loses any value of investment of time and effort. By two thirds of the book down I was out of it, lack of plot development unengaged by the characters that were no longer identifiable even within the disbelief. I ceased even to care about any of them as a mutually abused and abusing collective. There are no danger of spoilers in this review as by the end I still couldn't tell you who killed who or why or who is approaching who we believe might possibly be the narrator for the denouement, which we don’t even get to read about.

The undefintion of this story in plot and character is all very post modern in its desire and its use of internet themes and blogging as a vehicle is gently techno-punk in its construction but the book fails utterly to say anything of significance about either. Even the most fantastical suspension of disbelief (for therein is the attraction of fiction) does need to have some fixed point, a doorway or an anchor through which we can connect and be drawn into the alternate reality. This tale provides neither.

So I’m going back to trying to combine compatible determinism and hard determinism…it’s easier to see the point.

Neal Terry

May 2010


Kissed by an Angel said...

I take it you weren't keen then!!!!
I'll avoid the book then!! Thank you!
hope you are feeling better!

MadPriest said...

"Having been told by his medical team that he must rest for the next 4 to 6 weeks."

Oh, dear. We are not going to survive this.

....Petty Witter said...

Indeed MP, 4 to 6 weeks could well seem like 4 to 6 months and then some.

Jen said...

I'm confused already. He's not really abused, just making stuff up for his blog? Or some people are real and others aren't?

I think I'll skip this one. Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

Wow this book sounds like some of the experiences I have had in the blog world. People writing this is who I am only to find out it was all made up...interesting...I think.

Tracie said...

Sounds like I'll have to pass on this one then. Nothing worse then getting stuck with a bad book.

KLZ said...

I just read The Help which I thought was thought provoking without being...well, Faulkner you know?

Alexia561 said...

While the idea of a book written as blog entries sounds interesting, I think I'll skip tis one as I really need believable characters and an actual plot to make me a happy reader.

Well done, Neal!