Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review of Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson

Anderson, R.J.  Ultraviolet.  Carolrhoda Lab, 2011.
Sixteen-year-old Allison Jeffries has tasted and seen letters, words, and emotions her whole life.  Her own mother is afraid of her daughter’s unusual abilities, so Allison has pretended that she is normal.  But she thinks she just might be crazy!

After an altercation with Tori, a long-time classmate, Tori goes missing and is feared dead.  The incident causes Allison to have, supposedly, a nervous breakdown, which sends her to a psychiatric hospital.  Tori has disappeared, and Allison is being blamed for her murder.

Allison longs to go home to her family and her music, but Dr. Minta, her psychiatrist feels that she isn’t ready.  Dr. Sebastian Faraday, a graduate student in neuropsychology from the University of South Africa, shows up at the hospital and recruits Allison to be part of his study.  He discovers some amazing and secret qualities about her, and tells her he believes she had nothing to do with Tori’s disappearance.  However, Dr. Faraday is hiding secrets of his own!

When Dr. Faraday is thrown out of the hospital on fraud charges, Allison feels like she has lost her only friend and confidant.  She is determined to get to the bottom of what has happened and also solve the mystery of Tori’s disappearance.  What happens is an adventure that is so surprising that even Allison has trouble believing it, herself!

Ultraviolet is a book that really fooled me!  When I started reading it, I thought it was about a girl who had psychiatric problems and, possibly, some psychic abilities.  However, upon further reading, it turns out to be about a girl who has some unusual neurological conditions involving color, taste, sounds, and emotions.  In addition, add into the plot some surprising extraterrestrial characters and elements, which were really unexpected!

The way that flashbacks were worked into the plot was an extremely smart idea.  It gives the reader the back story and history between Tori and Allison and the reason for their acrid relationship.  As the narrator, Allison is able to fill in the gaps between what she knows and what she eventually comes to remember.  The minor characters in the Pine Hills Psychiatric Center make the scenes in the hospital interesting and provide insight into the daily workings of the facility.  I really like Sanjay, who is a patient due to his paranoia about aliens.  His candid comments are extremely funny!

R.J. Anderson has done an enormous amount of research into the fields of synesthesia and tetrachromacy.  It is truly an interesting concept on which to base a fiction book!

Fans of science fiction will enjoy this book!  I recommend it for middle school, high school, and public libraries.