YA Science Fiction
Available September 2011
Review copy provided by publisher for honest review
Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.
This is not her story.
Unless you count the part where I killed her.
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?
Positive: It has you wondering if Alison’s really crazy. She does wake up in a psych ward, after all. She did attack several police officers, trash her mother’s cell phone, and scream that she killed Tori over and over again. That sounds a little loony. But, as the story progresses, we see that she isn’t insane, just oversensitive due to her condition and in a really bad place. The story is written so readers can feel what she’s going through, placing us firmly in the mental institution with her.
Positive: It’s set in Canada. Canada, y’all! While the setting doesn’t play a huge role in the story, I always enjoy reading books set in places I love. Canada’s a beautiful country and, opposed to what many U.S. folks believe, isn’t just an extended bit of the U.S.
Positive: It treats mental illness and neurological conditions seriously and not just as a plot device. The kids with Alison all have mental illnesses and are possible dangers to themselves and others, thus the reason they are institutionalized and medicated. They each have their role to play in Alison’s journey of discovery — a journey that leads her to finding out why she tastes music and lies and sees words and numbers as colors. I found this to be incredibly interesting, since her neurological condition was one I hadn’t heard of before.
Wish: That the romance aspect didn’t feel forced. While I don’t want to go into too much detail about Sebastian Faraday lest I give away who and what he is, I can tell you that he appears at the institute as a neuropsychologist conducting a study and he gets involved with Alison. Alison feels an instant connection to him (not love, just a connection) but, as the study progresses, she opens up more and more to him. While I could see her falling for him — a nice-looking older guy who offers a her port in the storm and who believes in her and her story — I didn’t see any reason that it should move beyond a crush. Or maybe I’m just a cynic.
Overall: ULTRAVIOLET is super-cool and quite unusual, using a legitimate neurological condition (nothing as devastating, just unusual) to tell a story filled with mystery, suspense, and drama. Well worth checking out, though those of us in the US will have to wait until September (U.K. folks, you can order now! Amazon | Book Depository).
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