Author: R.J. Anderson
Publisher: Orchard Books
Published: June 02, 2011
Buy: The Book Depository
“I’d killed Tori Beaugrand. Torn her into a billion pieces, disintegrated her, with nothing but the power of my mind.”
It’s been quite some time since I’ve been so genuinely shocked by a book before.
Ultraviolet is, for the most part, a brilliantly written story from the unique perspective of a girl sectioned in a mental institute for teens. It is also, near the end, something completely different - though no less brilliant. Come the last part of the story and R.J. Anderson doesn’t hesitate to distort the rules and deliver the very definition of a plot twist. As well as catching me wholly off-guard, the ending was utterly stunning, even if at first a little unbelievable. It is incredible how formulaic some books can be, yet with Ultraviolet, there is no familiar structure to the story. This, I believe, is what made this such a unique read.
Alison, the main character, is a patient at Pine Hills. She has synesthesia, making her narration quite unlike any other. As well as being able to taste lies, she can hear the music of the stars, feel the personalities of certain letters and numbers, and visualise colours that aren’t on the visible spectrum. With this, we are told a story through vivid imagery and elaborate sentences, but all of it completely accessible for the reader. I have read about synesthesia only a small handful of times before and it has always fascinated me. Anderson does a superb job addressing this condition, making it an almost educational journey at times, and never uninteresting.
It’s easy to sympathise with Alison, to like her and fully support her despite the implications of what occurred with Tori. Watching her open up to Dr Faraday and learn more about the very part of her that she tried to hide from the rest of the world was surprisingly touching. Faraday himself was a surprising character. I have to say, I wasn’t at all sure of him at first, but it didn’t take long at all for me to warm to him as easily as Alison had.
The rest of the cast include a set of perfectly crafted characters, from Dr Minta to Kirk and Sanjay and Micheline. While not all of these characters are particularly likable all of the time, each one, even when limited to only a few scenes, is wonderfully distinguishable. Even Tori, who lingered in Alison’s thoughts as a source of irritation and guilt, held my full attention.
The only part of this book that I wasn’t too keen on was the slight romance. Apart from that aspect, Ultraviolet impressed me in ways that make me oh-so-excited for the next book, Quicksilver. If this novel is anything to go by, I’m certain R.J. Anderson will meet my high expectations.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Rating: 4.5 stars