There hasn’t been a book I’ve wanted to write a spoiler-filled review for more than Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson, but I won’t! I want to so badly though, because it’s really hard to not gush about all the very awesome things!
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 had heard a little bit about Ultraviolet before I started it, it was good, different than anything out there, but really good. From the second paragraph, which contains a single powerful sentence, I was hooked. What came after that is one of the most unique, descriptive, creative, and unsettling chapters in first person narrative I have ever read. I’ve read it several times and it just gets more profound with each read. Alison wakes up and has no idea where she is or how long she’s been there. The words Ms. Anderson uses to introduce you to Alison and immerse you in her life are achingly beautiful and just as painful. Alison isn’t like other people. She processes information differently. What she sees, hears, and tastes will leave you amazed and desperate to turn the page for more of this intriguing story filled with a great supporting cast of characters. Characters that are just as complex and mysterious as Alison is.
That’s one of the wonderful things about this story, you don’t really know what, or who, to believe. Is Alison nuts? Can the doctors be trusted, do they really want to help her, or is there a giant government conspiracy as one of the other patients in the hospital believes? Does Alison’s family know more than they are letting on? Does Tori’s?
As Alison settles in to her new environment, you’ll be immersed in what she’s been through and what’s she’s feeling, and it will leave you bereft for her. You’ll want to protect her, keep her safe, but the path Alison must take to learn the truth is one you can’t save her from. The two overarching story lines in Ultraviolet, what happened to Tori and what is going on with Alison, are intertwined and messy, and as they unravel, they will pull you down deeper and deeper into the mystery surrounding them. The mystery I totally want to spoil for you so I can gush about how flipping brilliant R.J. Anderson is. There’s a twist, you guys, and it’s so good! Gah!
I do want to stress that if you don’t enjoy not knowing exactly what is going on in a story, if losing yourself in pretty words strung together in such a way that creates beautiful, unique, and moving imagery isn’t really your thing, you might want to give this book a pass. But, if being taken on a fantastical journey and adding one more literary crush to your list is something you’re up for, go pre-order Ultraviolet for its September release by Lerner Books’ Carolrhoda Lab imprint.
Review based off of uncorrected proof provided by Netgalley.