Thursday, 21 July 2011

review: Ultraviolet

by R. J. Anderson
Carolrhoda Lab, September 1, 2011
young adult sci-fi
e-galley received via NetGalley

Alison wakes up in a hospital to the news that she's confessed to killing Victoria Beauregard. Thanks to her "episode" that led to her hospitalization, Alison's now committed to a psychotic ward in northern Ontario. Convincing her parents and doctors she's not crazy is hard while she's trying to figure out exactly what happened to Tori, what her synesthesia has to do with her abnormal powers and how her new psychiatrist's eyes could possibly be ultraviolet...
The cover:

It's not flat-out gorgeous, but all that violet totally lives up to the title. The various nuances in the hues and all the shadows make for an appealing eyefeast, and OMG. That tagline.

The book:

This was the weirdest mash of sci-fi and paranormal. The blurb said "genre-bending", but I wouldn't exactly call it that; it's more like the various elements were almost the same, but didn't mesh perfectly. It actually didn't detract from the novel, though, because you could tell it was very ambitious, so you just went along with it.

The first half of Ultraviolet is somewhat predictable: protag wakes up in hospital, gets committed to crazy ward, spends a third of time trying to get out. It's a good thing that the murder of Victoria throws things for a loop. The clash of Alison's memories with what the world tells her makes for a good atmosphere in the ward, and the friends and not-so-friends she makes also help the time she spends there realistic, and not too bleak in the "pity-me-I'm-stuck-here-without-anyone-on-my-side" way.

When the technology and real sci-fi aspects of the novel kick in, the out-of-this-worldness (literally) may throw some readers for a loop who haven't been expecting such hard-and-fast science, though Alison's synesthesia and subtle powers do set up the stage. The romance is deep, almost lush, and I'd call it intense -- but not in the way where 16-year-olds find their soul mate. It's a mature romance, which is unusual for YA but a wonderful change. It also helps the reader get more connected with Alison, since previously she's focused on getting out of the ward and obsessing over Tori's death.

Watch out for the ending -- it's bittersweet, and if you enjoy the all's-well-that-ends-well kind of story... I still think you should read this. It's thought-provoking and a refreshing deviation from all the paranormal out there.

Rating: 4 out of 5