September 23, 2013

Ultraviolet by R. J. Anderson

Title: Ultraviolet
Author: R. J. Anderson
Publisher: Orchard
Publish Date: June 2, 2011
Genre: Science Fiction, Paranormal, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance
Rating: 3/5 Stars

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?

I started this book with high expectations. For the first hundred pages, it met those expectations. I loved the writing style, the premise of the story, the characters...everything. And then it all went downhill.

When we first begin reading, Alison is a strong character trying to get through her life – judging by the fact that she's been accused of murder, has synesthesia, and is currently locked up in a mental institute for teens, she handles this pretty well. Alison spends her time meeting friends (who aren't half bad) and actually grows to tolerate Pine Hills, despite the hatred she harbors for Dr. Minta, her therapist. Also, her descriptions of voices, sounds, and images are unique – and gorgeous – because of her synesthesia, so this was one aspect of the story I really enjoyed. The writing overall wasn't amazing, but it was definitely more than decent.

The plot was fairly steady up until halfway through the book, when I grew completely bored and seriously considered putting it down. Nothing was happening, and the entire middle chunk of the story consisted of Alison whining about how she couldn't get out of the mental institute, how trapped she was, how much her family despised her, etc.

This is when we reach the most skewed, confusing plot twist I've ever read. I felt like I had begun an entirely new novel. It was as if everything came together, but the puzzle pieces were so old and worn that they didn't fit correctly. I also thought Faraday’s character was strange and slightly creepy. On top of all this, Alison was imagining things, Tori turned friendly and not dead, and the whole concept of Mel not truly being Alison’s friend was just confusing and unnecessary.

I talk a lot about realistic reactions in my reviews, generally because it bothers me when characters react too dramatically or don’t react at all. The author actually did a pretty decent job on this part of the story up until the climax, when Faraday and Alison are thrown onto another planet and Alison’s reaction is “Eh, whatever.”

I wish I had enjoyed this book much more than I actually did, even though that doesn't seem possible from my standpoint. It’s unlikely that I’ll be picking up the sequel, but someday I may give it a try.

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