Possibly the best writer I have read, words don't convey how good this author is, and how thought provoking and chilling his tale of two boys is. Brian and Neil, total opposites in the spectrum of personalities have a common link: their little league coach, a man who through his actions has affected their lives greatly. You are given an account from when the boys are 8 right through to 19.
At the beginning of the story you get Brian's point of view, a confused eight-year-old who doesn't know what has happened to him after he is found in a cupboard at his home, scared and with a bleeding nose. Again, at ten he has another similar experience, where a chunk of his life is missing from his memory. After his first experience he starts getting nose bleeds, faints a lot and wets his bed, but his mother, although caring doesn't question it (other than pulls him out of baseball), and his father tells him off. Throughout the years, those missing hours and all the things that comes with it (the nosebleeds, dreams, etc.) leaves Brian with a desire to find out what really happened on those nights. In doing this, he gets into his head that aliens abducted him, his confused mind latching onto anything that could explain it. But gradually, when pieces start falling together he starts realising that there is a much more logical explanation, although horrifying and life shattering.
Neil knows what has happened to him, he's forgotten nothing, but sees it as good, the mind of a young boy not understanding that what was done was anything but loving. He comes to realise this at the end of the book, finally understanding how wrong it was through Brian. That last scene was so emotional, so sad, chilling, and scary as hell as a mother knowing that predators like the boys' coach are out there, ingratiating themselves so they can get what they want. The picture below is from the last scene in the film version, which was also powerful and disturbing:
Neil on the left, Brian with the blond hair.
As I've said, Neil reacted differently to his involvement with his coach, and throughout the majority of the book remembers the man with love and affection. But it was clear that the coach's actions and the way he gave Neil money set the boy on the path of prostitution. Neil becomes promiscuous, seeking out older men, preferring them over people his own age when it comes to bed partners. But, it always comes with a price - he hustles, something he enjoys until boredom leads him to New York, where a traumatic experience (and a harrowing scene) takes away an innocence he didn't know he had, making him hate sex for the first time. Neil in this book, in all his beauty and sensuality, was the star here, as he was in the film. He was perfectly played by a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt (seen below).
Neil is the one leaning out of the car, while the other boy acts as Eric, one of Neil's best friends, and the girl is Wendy, his other best friend, both also getting chapter view points in the book, Eric's being the more interesting of the two, because he shows us more of Brian and Neil's personalities. He's in love with Neil, but as said above, Neil is only interested in older, hairier men. Wendy also starts of having an infatuation with Neil, but realises quickly that Neil is gay, some of his actions shocking her. But this doesn't discourage her from forging on with their friendship, because he is so enigmatic and fascinating.
Enigmatic is definitely the right word for Neil, as it is for Brian also, because of the mystery behind their story. I wasn't sure how the title fitted in for a while, but by the end, or a bit prior to it, I realised what it meant and the picture on the cover of the book is so appropriate, and again the meaning is chilling, the blue light from the porch of the coach's old home shedding light (in more ways than one) on what happened to Brian and Neil.
As a overall assessment of this book, is was perfectly structured, giving the reader a mystery to start off with, leading them into wanting to know what happened to Brian and why he can't remember. We get pieces of the characters lives over an eleven year period. Some aspects were slow, more so in Brian's chapters, but, life isn't full speed all of the time, and these slower periods of the story were all needed, nothing in my opinion needing editing. Instead, the story was so realistic that the slower and faster periods for me played a perfect balance, allowing me to put the book down so I could enjoy it at a better pace, instead of whipping through it too fast ... plus I didn't want it to come to an end, because now it's over I really want to know more about Brian and Neil, to further read about their lives. Although there probably won't be, I hope there is a sequel.
On a note in regards to the writing style, all I can say is this author is brilliant. His writing is so beautiful, the structure of wording, how he describes scenes - it is all so poetic. I tend to skim or flick through descriptions of settings usually, but I didn't want to here, because it was just so beautifully rendered, a true masterpiece of skilled writing.
I will be thinking about this book for a long time, I don't think any book has affected me this much, both in its originality, the horrifying message to protect your children, the masterful and poetic rendering of text, the totally captivating characters... I will definitely be seeking this author's works out again. In my opinion, he is the best writer I have read, and as an author myself, I don't say that lightly.
Warning: It goes without saying, with the topic, that there is non consent in this book. But, even due to the difficulty of the theme and what Neil experiences at nineteen, the author does handle it with care.