Saturday, September 17, 2011
Review: Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson
Alison Jeffries is a synesthete—a person whose senses are “crossed” so that she experiences multiple sensory experiences whereas most people just experience one—but she doesn’t know this. All she knows is that she’s been this way her whole life, and has to hide her ability, and that this condition may or may not have killed her classmate, Tori Beaugrand. Locked in a mental institute, Alison struggles to understand who she is and what she’s done, but it’s not until the arrival of a sympathetic researcher that she finally begins to understand…and, in doing so, has her world turned upside-down.
R. J. Anderson steps away from faeries and tackles an entirely new genre and writing style in her latest novel, ULTRAVIOLET. ULTRAVIOLET is weird and crazy, but surprisingly, this genre-defying novel is an enjoyable success.
The less you know about ULTRAVIOLET before you read it, the better your reading experience will most likely be. ULTRAVIOLET’s plot doesn’t quite twist and turn, per se, but reader engagement is primarily predicated on unexpected revelations. This means that the characters feel somewhat lacking. Alison doesn’t stand out as a protagonist, though she is, fortunately, not a damsel-in-distress. Supporting characters take on rather one-dimensional roles: you’ve got yourself a plethora of fairly stereotypical mental patients, and the lifelong tension between Alison and her mother feels undeveloped.
Fortunately, the odd appeal of the story makes up for lackluster characters. While the writing is elementary, the story inexplicably sucks you in: you’re right there alongside Alison, having your mind blown and trying desperately to figure out where in this new version of the world you fit. Just when you thought the story couldn’t get any stranger, R. J. Anderson throws you another curveball. It’s pretty incredible, actually, how far she manages to stretch the story while still making everything fit together logically!
Overall, ULTRAVIOLET is not a masterpiece, but it was an entertainingly crazy read. Definitely recommended to readers who look more for originality in their reads.
Cover discussion: I am, apparently, shallow and love all photographic covers that are extremely detailed and play intriguingly with light and shadow. Tee.
Carolrhoda Books / Sept. 1, 2011 / Hardcover / 306pp. / $17.95
Received for review from NetGalley.