Series: Ultraviolet #1
Author: R. J. Anderson
Author: R. J. Anderson
Release Date: June 2, 2011
Pages: 416, Paperback
Ultraviolet is genre-bending paranormal YA about a 17-year-old girl named Alison whois a synesthete(she hears color, sees sound, etc), a tetrachromat (she can see into the ultraviolet part of the spectrum), and possibly a murderer. Her only hope is a fraud, a liar, and maybe an alien. Or so she says.
I find books that take place largely in mental institutions to be a little tricky. Its harder to keep my attention when the scenery doesn't change and a lot of the story's development takes place within the protagonist's head. But I had no problem staying invested in Ultraviolet, there was plenty to satisfy my curiosity through to the end.
Dominating the first half of the book is the mystery of Alison's strange abilities and how they may or may not be related to Tori's disappearance. Alison is both synesthete and tetrachromat (see definitions in summary), but at first, she doesn't know this about herself. All she knows is that her whole life she has been different and was able to hide it until one critical moment when her senses overwhelmed her and the girl she had been arguing with disappeared into thin air. Now she is in a mental institution and everyone thinks she could have murdered Tori. Confused and alone, Alison struggles to make sense of that memory and who she is, not knowing whether she can trust even herself anymore.
Enter Sebastian Faraday, the kind and compassionate doctor that assures Alison that she is not crazy but special. Sebastian reveals to Alison that she is synesthete and tetrachromat and with the right precautions she can live a completely normal life. He also assures her that he believes she didn't kill Tori. Alison takes great comfort in his presence but soon discovers that he hasn't been honest with her either. His true identity, the answer to Tori's disappearance, and how Alison relates to any of this, is what dominates the second half of the book.
So I have no idea how or when this happens, but on occasion, and without reason, I wrongly associate a book with a certain theme, usually based on viewing the cover and then making assumptions with other's offhand comments about the book. It's weird. But I'm telling you this because I need to admit that picked up this book thinking it was about fairies. And yeah, well, it wasn't. But I didn't realize this until late in the book and I spent a good while reading and waiting for Alison's synesthesia to be tied back to the fairies... not aliens.
This is important because I have thus far purposely stayed away from books involving aliens (take Lux, for example - a very popular book but one I have no desire to read). I have no good reason - I just don't want to read them. So when this book turned out to involve aliens, I was definitely dissapointed. It's my own fault really, it says it right in the summary and I just didn't remember reading that by the time I picked it up but this is why my rating suffered. I had a lot of good momentum going throughout this book and then at this discovery I felt like I hit a wall going 100mph. To make matters worse, I think the explanation and alien-stuff was a little cheesy and overall underdeveloped. But hey, I can also be biased.
I think this book has a lot to offer. There was a little bit of mystery, some mental instability, cool science, and the supernatural. If you don't have the same afflictions as me then Ultraviolet may easily be a 4+ star read for you.