19 May 2011

Book Review: Ultraviolet

Title: Ultraviolet
Author: R. J. Anderson
Publisher/Year: Lerner / 2011
Date Finished: 17 May 2011
Source/Format: NetGalley / ebook

Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid

Challenges: Take A Chance,

The Short and Sweet of It (from publisher)
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?

A Bit of a Ramble
First, I must get this off my chest: AAAAHHHHH!!!! The absolute and complete frustration of reading this book about killed me. I have read Uncorrected Proofs before, but never have I come across one so annoying. Sentences and paragraphs were repeated. The spacing was occasionally ridiculous. Flipping a page could take longer than I liked. The words Uncorrected Proof sprouted up now and then, usually each word taking up its own page, plus a separate page then for the page number. It was painful.

That being said, I did really enjoy the story. As a character, Alison is sympathetic. She suffers from synesthesia (and I mean, she actually suffers; I'm not using that indelicately in the way many do to refer to any sort of mental difference), meaning numbers have colors and words have tastes and sounds have visible form. Obviously, this ability takes a central role in the plot line, but more importantly (to me), it gave the author the opportunity to write description in a completely unique way. I enjoyed sensing the world through Alison's ability, and really you could read the book just for that experience and be satisfied.

The other characters in the novel also felt unique, and I enjoyed the clear presentation of personality and the subsequent realistic actions the characters take. Anderson populated Alison's world with well-developed characters from Dr. Minta, with his complex combination of curiosity and compassion, to Sanjay's never explained but entirely compelling insight.

The pacing threw me a bit after I finished reading. The majority of the plot reads like realistic fiction with any inconsistencies explained by the mental state of our narrator, but towards the end, the story shifts becoming science fiction. Honestly, I would have preferred the story remained realistic fiction. Saying any more would be really spoilerific so I'll stop there.

Despite the genre shift and the frustration of reading, I recommend Ultraviolet to any who enjoy YA SFF, especially if you like your SFF on the lighter side. I read the whole book in two sittings, not wanting to put it down.

How I Found the Book
The way I found this book is a bit strange. I was completing a task for the Take a Chance challenge, specifically the Random Book Selection, which asks participants to: Go to the library. Position yourself in a section such as Fiction, Non-Fiction, Mystery, Children (whatever section you want). Then write down random directions for yourself (for example, third row, second shelf, fifth book from right). Follow your directions and see what book you find. Check that book out of the library, read it and then write about it. (If you prefer, you can do the same at a bookstore and buy the book!).

As the library and I rarely get along (having to wait for interlibrary loan, being told how long I have to read the book, blahblahblah), I decided to do an online version. I went to NetGalley and opened up the YA section. Obviously, I can't walk around in there, so on one side of a sheet of paper, I wrote down fifteen numbers. On the other, I wrote down random mathematical signs (+  -  /  *). I combined the two together which gave me a number. I then separated that number out, added them together, and ended up doing that two more times before getting a single digit. I then went to that page in the Teens & YA catalog, eliminated the children's books, and ended up with three possibilities. I wrote their names on slips of paper and randomly drew one.

I am really glad Lerner Publishing Group accepted my request after going through all that trouble. :)


  1. First, finding a book like that sounds like fun! I've done the random number to pick a book from my own shelves, but that definitely sounds like more fun. Also, feel your pain with the uncorrected proofs. Some are just horrible!

  2. I read this book also this week and really enjoyed it. Plus, I didn't have many of the same issues that you experienced (ie - spacing off, repetitive paragraphs, etc). Weird since I also got it from Net Galley.

    As for the shift at the end of the novel, I actually thought it was predictable but dug the sorta after thought of the narrator. Like, was it really a scifi book OR did her reality only prove to her mental illness.

  3. Looks rather interesting; I'll wait for the true published version tho. I don't understand how these proofs can be SO VERY bad. Occasional typo or whatever but totally wrecked? It befuddles me.

  4. That is a really interesting way to find a book, and despite the fact that the uncorrected proof was so hard to read, it sounds like this book would be something that I could really sink my teeth into and enjoy. I am glad that you enjoyed it too, and I think you wrote an excellent and insightful review on it!

  5. Sandy - It is fun now and then to devise an overly complicated way to find a random read. :)

    Christina - DANG IT! Why was my copy so bad then? I know I would have enjoyed the story even more if reading it wasn't so difficult.

    Care - It was one hot mess that's for sure. Very difficult to read.

    Heather - I definitely enjoyed reading it, so I would recommend getting your hands on a copy for sure.

  6. You know, the cover totally compliments your blog. It's like you intentionally accessorized. :-D

    And on an even more unrelated note...YOU ARE SO AWESOME! Thanks a bajillion for sending me Herland and Radio Shangra-La. I'm really looking forward to reading both of them!

  7. Christina mentioned this one to me the other day because it deals with synesthesia. I haven't requested it yet - still on vacation...

  8. Jill - You totally are right. Perhaps I should crop the author and title off and replace my flowers with it.... That's not like stealing or anything right? I hope you enjoy the books!

    Amanda - I thought of you while reading it! If you do get a copy, I hope you get the non-effed up one!

  9. It sounds like it would be worth reading a finished copy of this one.

  10. That is too weird about how the galley was like that... I've never seen one that bad from Netgalley.

    The premise of this one is quite interesting, I might have to check it out. I liked how you found the book, too.

  11. Trisha - I cracked up at your elaborate but awesome strategy for randomly picking a book! Very clever!

    I, too, have had some issues with NetGalley arcs so I feel you on how aggravating it is to read! I'll have to look for this when it's out!

  12. I love the story about how you came to read the book. Glad it ended up being an OK read, despite the formatting issues.

  13. I couldn't put this book down and ended up reading it in one sitting. This is one I will definitely re-read, because even though I know what happens, it's too good not to read again!
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