Book Review: Ultraviolet by R. J. Anderson
Once upon a time there was a girl who was special. This is not her story. Unless you count the part where I killed her. Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison's condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can't explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori -- the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that's impossible. Right?
Ultraviolet is not out in the USA yet, and I got the UK version.
Let's start this review by saying that this book was the first I read on the neurological condition called Synesthesia. I knew about synesthesia before, I'm a borderline sound-color syn ,and I was thinking of writing a book on it, but then I came across Ultraviolet.
Honestly, the first half of this book is just AMAZING. Alison Jeffries, as the protagonist, is intensely relatable, and we find ourselves completely hooked in her story. Alison and her relationship with her family is what I thought was the real moving point of this story. Oh, there's a missing girl who Alison claims spontaneously combusted, there's a hot psychiatrist named Sebastian Faraday, there's an interesting pyromaniac and lots of other characters who aren't the usual stereotypical young adult types, but it is Alison and her mother, their rather complex relationship that I felt touched me the most.
Alison has been different all her life. She attaches names with colors, with taste, with sound. She sees colors for sound, for pain. She hears the songs of the stars. Such a premise lets Anderson write a beautiful viewpoint for Alison. Her world is at once more terrifying and more beautiful than ours could ever be. Victoria is the popular girl in school, but she is a cliche breaker. She's not exactly beauty without brains, and she's not exactly a bitch, either. Alison made her combust spontaneously. Or at least that's what Alison thinks.
Dumped in a psychiatric facility and convinced of her sanity, Alison fights against her doctor and her parents for release from the facility. Here again, the persepective in which Alison sees her mother is interesting. She loves her Mom, and we can completely relate to this feeling, and we just keep rooting for everything to become all right in the end.
Sebastian Faraday as Alison's "psychiatrist" is interesting. Especially because he clears a lot of things up, ties up a lot of loose ends. And, oh yeah, his violet eyes help too. Anderson uses some real good prose to describe Faraday. If I remember right, Alison thought his voice was like "Dark chocolate over velvet". Okay, yum!
My main problem with Ultraviolet was that it took something like a 180 degree turn in the latter half of the book. I expected something paranormal or sci-fi because people don't just, you know, disintegrate. But I didn't expect aliens, abandoned spacestations and time-warps/ wormholes. I'd have actually liked this book to just be about Alison's acceptance of herself, and more importantly, her family's acceptance of her.
But you should read this book. Because first of all, it's sort of informative about some neurological conditions. And second, it is BEAUTIFULLY written.
I learned that Ultraviolet will have a sequel, tentatively named "Quicksilver" which is shocking because I was so sure this book is a standalone! I did NOT expect Quicksilver. I'd actually have been happy with this book's sweet, slightly bitter and altogether gorgeously written ending.