Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson is all kinds of impressive. The story is incredibly original but I think my favourite part about this book is the fact that it's a fascinating book to read. Not just the overall story but the individual chapters were filled with enriching details.
It's incredibly rare for me to mention the presentation of a book in a review but I have to say something this time because I was so impressed. It begins with the beautiful cover. It's gorgeously metallic in person and my copy of the book was small, compact, and crisp. Each chapter had a designated colour or basic sensation and all three of the parts of the book were separated by a page of black. It ends up looking and feeling really nice and I, like many others, tend to enjoy nice things.
Now, on to the actual content. One thing that excited me right off the bat was that Ultraviolet is set in northern Ontario. I live in south eastern Ontario and I've never gone to the north but there is something so cool about a book being set in the same country, nonetheless province as you. It doesn't happen too often since not many authors I read write about Canada but there were some cultural things I loved and it's something rare that probably won't mean as much to you as it does to me.
Ultraviolet begins with Alison waking up in a hospital. Isn't that creepy? She doesn't remember anything, but something terrible has happened and a girl has gone missing, and Alison is the last person to see her. It should also be mentioned that Alison is different. She perceives the world differently; she tastes things in the air, she sees colors from sounds, and the stars sing to her. There is a fair bit of mystery in Ultraviolet and it's great in the sense that for the longest time, you have no idea what type of book this is. Something is not right, and is this wrongness supernatural or just contemporary? You'll never know as even the end leaves the door open. I love the openness and that the author very obviously knew what she was doing when she wrote this book because it comes off as very polished.
Ultraviolet isn't too suspense filled, nor is it an insanely fast paced action read so it doesn't fit my prototype of plots I know I'd love. However, it does something I love even more than a fast plot: character development. As more information is revealed about Alison, I couldn't help but like her even more. Also, most of the book is set in a psych ward so of course that in itself is fascinating enough. There's enough really interesting subplots and interaction with other characters to keep me interested. The ending does whirl by a bit and it throws me out of the loop a bit. There are clues but this book is so open that anything could be interpreted from the details. (Let me know if you guessed the twist in the comments and what you thought of it.)
I liked the ending. It was surreal in a way but enjoyable and I'm not a usual fan of companion novels but as soon as this book ended I was insanely happy to have gotten a copy of Quicksilver from Monarch Books.
Some other aspects I enjoyed that won't spoil this book for anyone else includes the fact that Alison likes piano, the flashbacks, and Alison's relationship with her mom. It wasn't the best or most healthy relationship but it was sufficiently complex and the feelings underneath everything rang true.
All in all, reading Ultraviolet was a cool experience because this book is strong in so many ways. I thought it was solid and never disappointed me. The book is a little bit odd because it's definitely different from most of what's out there but if you give it a chance you could be surprised in a good way. 4 stars,