Book Review: Ultraviolet by R.J Anderson


‘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?’

I put of picking this book up for the longest time, without really knowing why. I guess I just wasn’t quite sure if I really wanted to read it or not, despite having heard only great things about it. After reading Ultraviolet, I can see why so many people loved it. 

It is well written, with an interesting and compelling story line. Alison has been sanctioned after having a major breakdown and confessing to the murder of a girl from her school who has disappeared without a trace, but she doesn’t remember anything about what happened that day. Alison isn’t quite your normal character. She sees the world differently, in bursts of colour and tastes, and can see things, such as the inside of a fruit being rotten, that others cannot.

What particularly held my interest was the fact that we aren’t entirely certain, for a good portion of the book, whether Alison is mentally ill or not. As Ultraviolet is told in first person narrative, by Alison herself, our instinct is to trust her and believe that the Doctors at the asylum are either mistaken, or corrupt. But there were a few times when I began to doubt Alison and question whether she actually was sick, but couldn’t recognise it, particularly after certain events unfold and we discover certain characters are not as they appeared to be. How many of asylum patients know themselves to be sane and everybody else crazy? If something feels so real to you, how do you reconcile yourself to the fact that it’s not?

This is a stand alone novel (for now – I believe the author may be considering a companion novel to this one) which I admit I found strange as very near the end, there is a big twist which completely alters the entire story, not to mention the whole tone of the book, with very, very, little time to explore it all properly. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but it all felt too vague and brushed over too quickly. I was left with many questions.

Alison was a well written character and while I didn’t grow attached to her, I was still interested to learn her story. The one person I would have loved to have gotten to have know better was Tori. If Anderson does write a second novel I hope it will be narrated from her point of view as I feel Alison’s story has come to a natural conclusion by the end of Ultraviolet.

There is a little romance, though not much and I liked the way it played out. Not all romances in YA have to be the ‘forever/soulmate’ kind and it was refreshing to see something different here.

In the end, I didn’t like where this one went. It isn’t really a genre that interests me, so while I think the quality of the story and the writing deserves a rating, I’m giving this a lower mark just because I personally didn’t love it. I’m glad I read it, but, for me, it was forgettable. Not one I’d feel the need to revisit.



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