I enjoyed this book, but it is a tough one to review.
For most of the book, 16 year old Alison is in a mental institution because she claims to have killed he friend. She also sees and hears things that aren't really there and her family is concerned and scared about it. I found the mental institution interesting and authentic sounding, feeling like the author really researched this part of the story. I also really felt for Alison and what she's going through, curious about what really happened.
I also liked the other characters in the hospital and how things weren't glossed over with her family - that it was hard for them to have her there, that they didn't know how to relate to her, that her best friend changed how she felt.
Then, about three quarters of the way through the book, there is a twist. I won't say much, but it is a twist that changes the whole book. In one way, it was fun, but in another, it left me feeling betrayed.
Overall, I enjoyed Anderson's writing and she really pulled me in. I loved the exploration of Alison's condition and the acknowledgement that we all see things differently, some more than others. I am still torn about the ending.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic--with moments reminiscent of Bradbury and L'Engle.Sept. 19 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Ultraviolet is one of those sneaky books that makes you think you're reading one thing and then all the sudden, whoosh, you're off on a different adventure. I think many of us who spend a lot of time in the paranormal genre have come to expect a certain story structure from these types of books, but this one has no problem bending all the rules and leaping out to explore other dimensions. Be careful as reviews start to come in, however, because the less you know about this story, the more you'll enjoy it.
The book starts off with a bang: Alison has been institutionalized in a teen mental facility because she's confessed to killing Tori, a girl from school. The problem is, Ali watched her classmate disintegrate in front of her...and the body has disappeared. Since Ali's also seeing colors and tasting lies, she doesn't know whether she's really going crazy or not. She is isolated from her friends and family, she can't relate to the other kids in the facility, and she's being pressured by the police and her psychiatrist to give up information she knows will hurt her. The only one she can turn to is the handsome Dr. Faraday, who helps her understand her synesthesia, an unusual neurological condition in which she processes certain letters as colors, sees symbols where they don't exist, etc.
The author spends a lot of time carefully easing us into a familiarity with Alison's condition and making us feel for her situation, and for the longest time I wasn't even sure if she was ever going to make it out of the institution since her mother keeps finding excuses to not to see her. It took me a little while to adjust to her condition as well, but once I settled in I really enjoyed seeing the world through Ali's sensations, even though I wasn't sure where the story was going.
And then...just as you're getting comfortable, the author turns everything on its head. Shortly before it happened, many readers may guess what is going on--but the reveal is so simply and beautifully done that my little heart still fluttered. From that point on, the story kicks into high gear as Alison tries to solve the mystery of what happened to her classmate and to prove--and to believe--that she isn't insane at all.
There is a wondrous moment near the end that made me catch my breath that invokes the same sort of feelings I get from lying in a meadow under a giant nightscape of stars and sky--that awesome, bigger-than-life emotion of gazing up into a beauty and mystery that we will never fully understand. It's hard to go into detail here about what made this book so fantastic for me without spoiling it, but as I was reading this scene, I flashed back to the very best work of Madeleine L'Engle and Ray Bradbury. I've often wondered if those two masters of speculative fiction are as beloved by teens today as they were back in the day, because like Ultraviolet, their work trusted their readers enough to peel back their many layers slowly and patiently.
I'm not sure how this book will be viewed by modern mass audiences, but I do believe (and hope) that it's going to be critically very well received. It's intelligently written fiction with ideas that stimulate the imagination and move you with what's unspoken...as well as the infinite possibilities of a future yet to come.
*An advance copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.*
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Kept me on my toes!Aug. 21 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
I LOVED this book!
Alison wakes up in a mental hospital and begins trying to piece together how she got there and what happened. She thinks she made Tori (a girl she can't stand) disintegrate.
Not only that, Alison sees sounds (literally) and can taste feelings, although she refuses to tell anyone she can do this. The descriptions in this story were beautifully written. I felt like I could actually see and taste everything Alison did.
Dr. Faraday arrives and begins helping Alison figure out just what is going on with her and the story just completely twists (and not in a way I even could have thought).
The story line was simply phenomenal. I thought I could predict what was going to happen, but it just kept throwing in twists and turns and literally made me gasp quite a few times.
What I loved about this book was that it made me experience a variety of emotions: fear, anxiety, rage, anguish, love, wistfulness.
I love when I can completely connect with a book and this one did it for me.
I couldn't put this book down and ended up reading it in one sitting. This is one I will definitely re-read, because even though I know what happens, it's too good not to read again!
I received this book for free from Lerner Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Ultraviolet by R. J. AndersonJuly 19 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
CBR III Review #88: Ultraviolet by R. J. Anderson
Alison wakes up from a semi-conscious state to find herself in a hospital about to be moved to a mental institution. Her memory starts to slowly return to her and all she can remember is fighting with fellow student Victoria Beaugrand outside the school. As you get to know Alison you realize she has a weird condition. Alison can taste letters and every letter has a specific color assigned to it. Sound also resonates inside her. She is convinced that this gift somehow killed Victoria by reducing Victoria to atoms.
For those of you that are familiar with psychology the first part of the story wont be a huge surprise to you, but it's interesting to watch Alison recognize her condition and you root for her to learn how to cope with it. However, once the author starts to explain what happened to Victoria the story takes a gigantic leap into left field. I even double checked to make sure I was reading the same book.
I really loved the first part of the novel as Alison learns about her condition and the other patients brought some depth to the novel. The relationship between Alison and her mom is heartbreaking and I was really enjoying the novel then came the last few chapters.
The direction, tone, and genre of the book changes from a coming of age story (with a dash of murder mystery) into a completely different story. I don't think I have ever used the expression "jump the shark" but if I was going to apply it to something I would apply it to Ultraviolet. I just feel like the ending should have been somewhat alluded to or more time had been spent explaining it.
I really enjoyed the first part of Ultraviolet so I struggle if I should recommend it to people or not, but hell go for it. I will give you a cookie if you can guess the ending or if anyone else saw that coming.
This title will be released September 1, 2011.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Unexpected Twist Lessened the Book DrasticallyAug. 25 2011
A Book Obsession..
- Published on Amazon.com
Alison has always had a secret, one that if found out, everyone will think she is crazy. She's always been very careful to keep her differences hidden, but when a girl disintegrates right in front of her, she snaps. Her worst fears come true as she is confined to a mental institution. She rallies against her family and her doctors as they are keeping her there against her will and she will do anything to get out of there. Yet she can't explain what happened right in front of her and has to wonder herself is she hasn't finally gone off the deep end because people don't just disappear.
This book takes right off in the thick of things with Alison waking up in a mental hospital. I cannot imagine the horror of that, especially since she had no real memory of what had happened. She just felt so trapped and my heart wept for her. I was so torn between agreeing with her that the psych doctors were really the enemy and them actually being right. When I forced myself to take a step back and look at it, I realized that while Alison definitely wasn't crazy she also needed some help. Her violent episodes, no matter the cause still needed help of some sort so she could learn to control her outbreaks. It really made for an interesting read as I was on both sides of the fence the entire time, especially since it was so easy to care for Alison.
Okay, so the book was going really well and had a great momentum going right until the 3/4 mark and it was like the brakes were slammed and went in a COMPLETELY different direction. Like change of genre type, that's how big it was. It just made the whole thing seem quite unbelievable. I realize that might sound a little funny considering all I read is fantasy and paranormal stuff, but it was just the extremely abrupt change that didn't seem to work. Perhaps if this change had of happened much sooner in the book or somehow been eased into better I wouldn't have minded so much. Heck if there had of even been a little inkling of the possibility of this change, it would have worked out better. To add insult to injury the ending just did not feel satisfying at all. I mean if you are going to tear the rug completely out from under the reader at least leave them with a really satisfying ending to compensate.
This book had so much potential so it was really frustrating to me that things turned out the way that they did. However, putting that extreme plot change aside, the writing itself was done really well. The characters were full of depth and I was quickly sucked down into their story. I wouldn't even mind reading a sequel to this book now that the "change" has been fully established. In fact I hope that there will be considering the ending. So, in the end I'd have to say that it is a pretty decent read, but just go in with the expectation of a major change and perhaps you won't be caught off guard like I was.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
SNEAKY!Sept. 17 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
When I started reading this book I didn't have much info about it. I'd had it in my TBR pile for quite a long time so I said, 'Why not?' Hell, I didn't even know it was Syfy at first.I mean, a girl disintegrates, it should have been a big clue but this takes me back to the whole 'crazy' thing. That's how in the dark I was about it. But I'm glad I picked it up. You know why? Because, as it turns out, the less you know about it, the greater the surprise. Oh, and Ultraviolet was a very exciting read that'll engulf you in the mystery of Tori Beugrand's so called murder at the hands of Alison. Ms. Anderson's writing and plot were incredibly amazing. As I read, I had all this questions of whether or not Alison was actually sane. Alison's story was really heart-wrenching and insanely good, quite thought-provoking, really. Ultraviolet is the story of a confused teenage girl that has no idea what's going on with her weird 'ability' to see music and taste colors, which led her to doubt her sanity. I have to be honest, I questioned things a lot, too. Just when I was beginning to think this was a normal YA book, BAM! There goes everything I believed in with the twist and turn that the book took. Ms. Anderson was brilliant and sneaky. She eased you into Alison's broken world, made got you somewhat comfortable, and then ripped the world from right under your feet when you least expected it. When the truth comes out, I still didn't believe it. Seriously, Alison's story is incredibly confusing yet believable when you think about it. The author really did a great job in writing this story with 3D characters that were actually sort of hard to read. Because, really, who likes predictable characters? Although, this might come from the fact that the story was told from Alison's point of view, whom we come to realize was just as clueless about most of the people she thought she knew, which is great. As original and unpredictable as this story is, it's bound to keep readers on their toes from beginning to end trying to guess the mystery of Tori's death. A great start for a series. Now I heard there's sequel, but with the bar set so high, it makes me wonder whether or not I'll be satisfied with the sequel. Hopefully, it'll be just as awesome, or OMG!, even better if that's possible.