Readers: February 27th: Apologies for the scattered posting that's about to come during the next week or so. University has just started and I have a lot of work to do to get on top of things (and ahead!). Thanks for your patience, as always.

Publishers: I promise I'm not abandoning the lovely review copies you've sent!
I'm getting through them and the reviews will come eventually!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review: Ultraviolet

Title: Ultraviolet
Author: R.J. Anderson
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Published: September 1st 2011
Source: Net Galley

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?

While the cover is not the best, this novel is its own kind of unique and will catch your interest from the very first page. It's not everyday that the main character in a novel has the rare condition of synesthesia. While it is not explicitly stated until later on in the novel, readers are aware of her condition from the beginning, though some will not recognise it. If synesthesia is a new concept for you, it's a condition where people associate one or more sense with another such as seeing sound, tasting shapes and smelling colours. I found this addition to Allison's character intriguing, as it keeps both readers and Allison wondering whether she is sane or whether her condition is altering her perceptions of reality. This is something Ultraviolet constantly shapes and changes, whether it be of the world, of the characters or of the events that have occurred. One way or another, what we think about almost everything is rebuffed and completely turned around which makes for a good and unpredictable read.

In the beginning, the main storyline of the novel is to do with the disappearance of Allison's schoolmate, Tori. We are left in the dark about what has happened truly happened until towards the end, as Allison herself cannot comprehend the situation. The novel is unexpectedly sci-fi so when we are first introduced to it (or maybe thrown in head first, to be specific), I imagine most are left confused. It's something that takes us by surprise, as it comes suddenly and completely out of the blue. Also, the abilities that Allison has is sometimes unbelievable and all too coincidental. Perhaps this part of the story could have been written better, but don't give up on it. At first, it all seems ridiculous and too out of this world but suspend your disbelief and read on. You'll get used to it and it ends up actually being quite exciting. It  somehow makes sense and isn't a big pile of "crazy" after all. Who would've thought?

While Allison is at the mental institute, she meets a variety of people, each with their own conditions and stories. I feel as if these characters weren't developed enough and they were just in the background, occasionally popping in to conveniently serve whatever purpose the author wanted them to at that very moment. Kirk, a pyromaniac, seems like a love interest but after a few vague interactions and a loose ending, I guess not. During her stay, she is also introduced to Sebastian Faraday, someone who has come in to study her. Please do not make the same mistake I did and think that he is a thirty or forty year old. This will make your reading experience very creepy as Allison begins to develop an affection for him and vice versa. He is indeed around 20 years old…so remember that. If it weren't for my stupid misconceptions, I would've found their relationship quite adorable. He offers her the help and knowledge she needs, and later plays a pivotal part in the novel.

The plot's pace is something that I'm at war with. The first third of the novel is sort of fascinating, in that we are seeing things with new eyes and learning interesting pieces of information. As the novel continues, things seem to slow down and speed up at the same time. While still nothing truly exciting has happened, we've moved on from the introductory phase and are getting more into the mystery of things. In the final third is where things really start picking up. There's more action and the story moves at a faster pace. This section will keep you on edge, waiting to see what will happen next.

At the beginning of every chapter is of course the title. Instead of the usual "Chapter 4", we get "Four is Blue". Each chapter is associated with a colour and this later transitions to emotion and mood - "Sixteen is Overwhelmed". This represents how Allison is growing and how her abilities are becoming more and more complex as time passes. On one occasion, we're shown an image and this further emphasises how different she is, as well as makes us think about what it's like for people in the real world who have this condition. Wouldn't it be amazing to see things so differently?

Ultraviolet is unique and a nice change from my usual reads, despite the flaws that it has. Give it a chance and maybe you'll like it more than I did.

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