Wednesday, June 8, 2011

READING: Ultraviolet by R.J.Anderson

Ultraviolet by R.J.Anderson

Publication date: June 2nd 2011
Published by: Orchard
Source: NetGalley
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Rating: 3/5
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 was certainly an unusual YA book. It was like 2 different books, actually. The first took action in a psychiatric facility and the second in some kind of space station. What does one have to do with the other? You'd be surprised!

Alison, a 16 year-old girl, wakes up in a mental institution. She thinks she killed a girl from her school, Tori. Well, not exactly killed. More like annihilated her with her mind. She didn't tell anybody but her attack on her mother and the policemen that came to question her after Tori's disappearance, were enough to make her mother commit her to a psychiatric hospital. There she meets the mysterious Sebastian Faraday, a neuropsychiatrist (or so he says!) with whom she falls in love with and together they discover that she is not in fact crazy, but has synesthesia, "a neurologically-based condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway". (
In a nutshell, synesthesia is a condition which pretty much mixes all the senses together. For example, a person who has synesthesia sees colors in sounds, personalities in numbers and letters etc.
Then came people from outer space who built a portal which sucked Alison in,  who tried to find a way to escape because the outer space people wanted to keep her and study her because of her condition.
Told ya. Two different books.

I liked the part in the clinic a lot. I liked Alison's sessions both with Faraday and her actual psychiatrist, Dr.Minta I liked her interaction with the other patients and how they were portrayed. The science fiction part I'm not sure what to make of. It didn't appear completely out of the blue, there were some definite hints, but I didn't expect to read about portals and space stations and the like, to be honest. So I had a really hard time believing that all that actually happened and it were not just in Alison's head. Maybe if the book was equally proportioned and the hospital part didn't take up 2/3 of the book, it would give the reader more time to adjust to the outer space part of it. Personally, I felt it was unnecessary. Alison's story, beginning to end, could have very easily taken place in the institution without the science fiction element. It would be much better in my opinion and a more "complete" book, plot and character-wise.

All in all, the parts about Alison's synesthesia and her life in the hospital are nicely narrated and very interesting. However, I do believe Ultraviolet could have been a lot stronger if its story line wasn't split in two so close to the end.

If you want to find out more about synesthesia, go to The Synesthesia Battery ( or Mixed Signals (

*This book has been given to me by NetGalley, free of charge.
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  1. I got an ebook copy of this from NetGalley as well, and I just can't seem to get into the story at all, which is a shame because I was really intrigued by the premise. Plus, I actually know someone who has synesthesia; so I was curious to read more about it.

    Anyways, I started having a creeping feeling this would be a DNF for me, and now that you've pointed out the disjointed dichotomy of the book, I think I probably will call it quits.

    Thanks for the review! :)

  2. Thank Marg! Oh you know someone with synesthesia? Before I read Ultraviolet I haven't heard anything about it so I guess I'm thankful for that.

  3. Yes, an artist friend of mine perceives tastes as shapes. She also once told me that certain textures have a strong emotional impact on her. For example, some textures she perceives as happy while others as sad.

  4. Wow amazing. I can't even perceive it completely.


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