Ultraviolet Paperback – 2 Jun 2011
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An incredibly rich book...Anderson's writing is effortless and compelling...complex, deep and wonderfully written. (Birmingham Post)
An incredibly rich book that is packed with mystery and hints of paranormal... Effortless and compelling. (Birmingham Post)
Completely unlike any teen novel you've read. (SugarScape)
I'm a huge fan of teenage and genre-busting books like Ultraviolet. (Derby Telegraph)
EVERYTHING YOU BELIEVE IS WRONGSee all Product description
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The majority of the book is set in Pine Hills Hospital, where Alison is treated as though she has a mental illness, but although her health is cause for concern, she is not ill. Alison has synesthesia - a real neurological condition where a person may process letters as colours or words as tastes. This was the first time I'd heard of such an ability and I was fascinated by it, although I cannot claim to know how much accuracy this representation holds. And of course, this ability is subtly blended with elements of the paranormal, which is slowly but magnificently uncovered throughout the course of the book.
I predicted the twist of the story because of the paranormal genre (and because of Goodreads - curse you, Goodreads!), but nothing could prepare me for the extent it reached beyond my expectations. The story was highly original and Alison's experiences of the world were so incredibly vivid and well developed that I was fully absorbed.
I did have some minor quibbles which is what prevented the book from being a 5 star read. I had very mixed feelings about the focal relationship within the story, and there was no clear line between what was supernatural and what would be what a synesthyte would actually experience. From my minimal understanding of synesthesia, I know that it is not a mental illness, and it is clarified as such in the book. But for Alison it was debilitating in a way that I think she did require support, which is not what a real person with syneasthesia would experience.
Nevertheless, I was utterly captivated by this book. It has been so long since I have read a book of this size in such a short space of time and I could not put it down. It is unusual, but I find that is where the beauty of Ultraviolet lies.
Warnings: Set in mental facility, topic of mental illness (will be discussed in this review), mentions of self-harm
Diversity note: protagonist with synesthesia
Secondly, most of the book is set in a teenage mental institution, and it really conjures up a great sense of horror and panic. Unlike some literary depictions of asylums, no one was sadistic or neglectful or corrupt, and nothing truly awful happened. The staff care about our sectioned heroine - but the grinding horror of not being allowed home, of taking medication with unpleasant side effects and being constantly monitored was almost more traumatic to read about than a more OTT depiction.
Thirdly - and this was the thing that really made the book special for me - I just didn't know what was going on or what genre of book I'd landed in. Our narrator, Alison, has been sectioned after she had a fight with a school mate, who disappeared into thin air in front of her, causing her to seemingly have some form of nervous breakdown. No one has seen the other girl since. The police believe she has something to do with it, the doctors think she has a serious mental illness. And the great thing is that I didn't know what to believe. It felt equally plausible that Alison was schizophrenic and had imagined the other girl disappearing, that she'd killed her accidentally and was in shock and denial, or that something supernatural has happened. For the majority of the book, I didn't know whether I was reading a crime thriller, a gritty study of mental illness or a paranormal novel. For the full effect, I'd recommend you're very careful around reviews, even if you're usually okay with spoilers.
In the end, everything is explained and wrapped up convincingly - though not too neatly. And in between, there's some great character development, some challenging of perceptions, and a rather sweet romance. Definitely worth a read if you're looking for something a bit different.
After MUCH research on the problem, (text starts black on page change and then immediately fades to be barely readable) I discovered that the reason for this is that the publisher has set a coloured font. Since kindles are black & white, it displays as faded text instead.
It's still possible to read the book on the kindle program for PC, but it's a very silly oversight that seems to be a fairly common publisher error, since I discovered the reason by googling and found somebody with the same problem on a different book.
Please be aware before buying this book to read on your kindle.