Friday, 5 February 2016

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson // Bursting with Colour

Title: Ultraviolet
Author: R.J. Anderson
Genre: Paranormal
Warnings: Set in mental facility, topic of mental illness (will be discussed in this review), mentions of self-harm
Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads Review | Book Depository
Read as part of the Diverse Reads Book Challenge

After a series of events she cannot remember, Alison is sent to a mental facility. The one thing she can recall is her classmate Tori disintegrating before her eyes, and she believes she is the cause.

The majority of the book is set in Pine Hills Hospital, where Alison is treated as though she has a mental illness, but although her health is cause for concern, she is not ill. Alison has synesthesia - a real neurological condition where a person may process letters as colours or words as tastes. This was the first time I'd heard of such an ability and I was fascinated by it, although I cannot claim to know how much accuracy this representation holds. And of course, this ability is subtly blended with elements of the paranormal, which is slowly but magnificently uncovered throughout the course of the book.

I predicted the twist of the story because of the paranormal genre (and because of Goodreads - curse you, Goodreads!), but nothing could prepare me for the extent it reached beyond my expectations. The story was highly original and Alison's experiences of the world were so incredibly vivid and well developed that I was fully absorbed.

I did have some minor quibbles which is what prevented the book from being a 5 star read. I had very mixed feelings about the focal relationship within the story, and there was no clear line between what was supernatural and what would be what a synesthyte would actually experience. From my minimal understanding of synesthesia, I know that it is not a mental illness, and it is clarified as such in the book. But for Alison it was debilitating in a way that I think she did require support, which is not what a real person with syneasthesia would experience.

Nevertheless, I was utterly captivated by this book. It has been so long since I have read a book of this size in such a short space of time and I could not put it down. It is unusual, but I find that is where the beauty of Ultraviolet lies.

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