Ultraviolet – R.J. Anderson

A beautifully written book which has you wondering what is real, and what is not.

Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Release Date: June 2nd

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 wakes up in a mental institution. As she pieces her memory back together, she realizes she’s confessed to murdering Tori Beaugrand, the most perfect girl at school. But the case is a mystery. Tori’s body has not been found, and Alison can’t explain what happened. One minute she was fighting with Tori. The next moment Tori disintegrated—into nothing.

But that’s impossible. No one is capable of making someone vanish. Right? Alison must be losing her mind—like her mother always feared she would.

For years Alison has tried to keep her weird sensory abilities a secret. No one ever understood—until a mysterious visiting scientist takes an interest in Alison’s case. Suddenly, Alison discovers that the world is wrong about her—and that she’s capable of far more than anyone else would believe.

From the very first sentence of the above description, I wanted to read this book. I love a book where there is an unanswered question at the centre, and I’ve had a long lived fascination with synesthesia – a condition Alison has. This is an integral part of the story and affects everything about her life. Anderson has done, what to me, seems like a really amazing job of developing this character and pulling the reader into her world with it’s many tastes, sounds and emotions.

Alison is a mess to begin with. She isn’t sure what is real, and what is not. She thinks she did something terrible, something that should be impossible, and yet she saw it with her own eyes. Slowly, she begins to take in the facts, and start working things out, though she struggles with the information she has, and knowing who she can trust.

I don’t want to say too much, as I think it might spoil the story, but I did want to mention one thing that stood out for me was Alison’s development as a person. As someone who has had mental health issues in the past I could empathise with the huge amount of energy Alison initially spends on holding herself together, keeping herself aloof in order to stay safe. Once she learns that she has synesthesia, it allows her to feel more secure in herself, and start being a part of the world around her, in ways she never felt like she could before. It’s a wonderful thing, and great to see that journey in a novel, as I think it carries an important message not only for people with mental health problems, but for anyone.

This book is beautifully written. I got totally swept up in the story, and in Alison’s plight. The writing is fantastic, the characters all individuals with their own things going on. While the last 3rd of the novel takes an unexpected turn, I enjoyed the whole thing and would happily recommend it to anyone. 4 stars from me.

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