Author: R.J. Anderson
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, elements of paranormal and Sci Fi.
Age restriction? Teens, 13+
Published: 2 June 2011 (?)
Incredibly well written and thought-provoking, Ultraviolet is one of the best YAs I've ever had the pleasure of reading. BUY NOW!
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? (from Goodreads)
REVIEW: Wow, a second top-rated book in less than a month! I hadn't thought I'd encounter another one of those for at least another year! I must have won the "great reads for you" lottery, because this book completely blew me away.
Using superb writing and astonishing characters, Rachel Anderson has crafted a Young Adult novel which is intelligent, consuming and enthralling. I couldn't put this book down and read through the night to finish it with tears in my eyes and a song in my heart. Honestly, I don't know how I'll find the words to do this book justice, but I will try.
Alison experiences the word differently from everyone else she had ever met. She sees the shapes of sounds, she hears the light of the stars, she physically feels sounds. Since her early childhood, she believed that this meant that she was crazy and she had been working very, very hard to hide not only how different she is but how she reacts to events - which serves to make her seem even more psychotic to the psychiatrists who have to evaluate her when she lands up in a mental institution, which is where the book starts.
The thin line between psychosis and the supernatural/paranormal is one which I had always found fascinating and almost hypnotic, and Alison's rigid control over her emotions and reactions as well as her constant questioning of her sanity and whether she could trust her own thoughts and feelings was something I may even have over-related to, which may have coloured my entire view of the book. Fair warning!
Anderson's writing skill is simply astounding. Her use of language to explain Alison's perceptions is incredibly well done and I would not hesitate to rank her as one of the best stylistic writers I have ever read. The writing was just that good, so even if the plot or character hold no interest for you (which I find hard to imagine!), Ultraviolet would be well worth the read for the exceptional writing alone.
That said, I found everything else about the book to be admirable. I have seldomly identified so strongly with a character as I did with Alison, despite the fact that I do not experience the world as she does. Her character is amazingly sympathetic and fully developed. The secondary characters are also vibrant and authentic although the reader's perceptions of them are heavily reliant on Alison's first-person narrative.
The plot is absolutely astounding. It hooks you from the first page and takes you on a rollercoaster-ride through Alison's mind and life at a mental hospital. The final piece of the puzzle was totally unexpected even though it was clearly foreshadowed, once you knew what to look for - even this veteran of mysteries was fooled!
Ultraviolet is, in one word, fantastic, and I can't recommend it strong enough.
Who would like this book? To be honest, it's hard for me to imagine who wouldn't! It's just so well done! That said, this is a YA book with elements of sci-fi, the paranormal and an exploration into the nature of mental illness. There is also a sexual assault, which may upset and/or trigger. The ending may not fall into everyone's comfort zone, either.
Disclosure: I received a pre-release electronic copy from Netgalley with no obligation to rate the book or even review it, so everything in the review is my own, personal and honest opinion.