Just a quick note or two before I get into this awesome book. If you hang out with me on my own blog, you may have seen this review already. For that, I apologise. I wouldn't normally put the same review on both blogs, but in this case, I'm making an exception.
Short story: I read this book last week and loved it. I posted the review about it on my blog, and then posted the link on Twitter, where R.J. Anderson herself tweeted me saying thank you for the lovely review. I was so excited! We got talking a bit, and it turns out that, even though she is from (and based in) Canada, she was doing a book launch in Oxford, England, for the sequel to Ultraviolet. Oxford is only about 40mins drive from me, so I excitedly made plans to go to the launch. That's happening this coming Tuesday, so I thought that it would be something cool to write about when I get back from that. So! To lead up to that book launch post, I thought I'd re-post this review so you guys know a little about the book, so when it comes to reading about the book launch, you won't be so much in the dark that you can't see. Sound okay? Let's do this!
I believe I stumbled across this book while browsing on Good Reads one day, and added it to my to-read list...like you do. A few weeks ago I reserved it from the library, but didn't read it until about a week ago. And then I couldn't stop. When I got it out of the library I couldn't really remember what I had read about it (blurb etc). All I had to go with was the back, which read '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'. What!? Okay. So I started reading...
I didn't really know what to expect, and after the first chapter I was wondering what I had gotten myself in to. But after another chapter or two I was hooked. Alison Jefferies has been involuntarily thrown into a mental institution after an extreme psychotic outbreak and screams of 'I killed her'. But when we meet Alison, she doesn't really know why she is there, or where 'there' is. Eventually she realises what's going on. Ever since she was very small, Alison has always been different. She would talk about the colours she saw and the sounds she tasted (you read correctly), and her mother would tell her to stop being silly. As she grew, Alison learnt to keep her experiences to herself. Only when she is in the hospital does she learn that what she has - what she's always had - is Synaesthesia. She hears colour, tastes words, sees numbers as colours, hears the stars as a song, and she can also see the colours on the ultraviolet spectrum.
She has been put into the mental institution because, as I mentioned, she claimed to have seen Tori Beaugrand disintegrate right in front her, and because she can't remember what happened, she assumes that she killed her. But as the story goes on, and Alison learns more about herself and her synaesthesia, she realises that she can't have killed Tori. Doctor Sebastian Faraday teaches her about her condition and life begins to make sense. But, like all good stories, things start to unravel when Alison discovers that Doctor Faraday isn't all that he seems. Amazing twist/genre change - and now it's suddenly about aliens. I mean, what? What is going on!? You'll have to read it.
Ultraviolet is written in first person and R.J. Anderson has done a great job at writing Alison and the way she experiences everything around her. It's quite incredible to read. It was nice to read a book that was labelled 'teen', but without the silly love triangles and teenage drama drama drama. With crazy people (literally) in the institution ward with her, a mother who doesn't understand her, a best friend her doesn't visit her, a Doctor who doesn't believe her and a horrific weight upon her shoulders, it doesn't really sound like a calming, relaxing, happy-clappy book. And it's not. But it's full of wonderful characters, and amazing sensory descriptions, singing stars, a loving father, a worried friend, and answers to a lot of questions...and my goodness, you won't be able to get it out of your head for at least 2 days after you've finished reading it. I've started my next book and I'm still thinking about this one.
This review was written by regular reviewer Anjali, get to know her here.
Image from GoodReads.