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When I Say ‘Ultra’, You Say ‘Violet’

Jenny finds Ultraviolet by R. J. Anderson to be intriguing but problematic.

When I Say ‘Ultra’, You Say ‘Violet’

BOOK REPORT for Ultraviolet (Ultraviolet Book 1) by R. J. Anderson

Cover Story: Color Me Confused
BFF Charm: Nay?
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Little Bit Schizo
Bonus Factors: Mystery, Classic Sci-Fi, Mental Wards
Relationship Status: I'll Visit You In the Psych Ward... Or College. Whichevs.

Cover Story: Color Me Confused

This book sat on my shelf untouched for a long time because of two things: the cover art, and the tag line. Plus, it DOES share its name with that unfortunate movie...

Now, I didn't find the cover embarrassing, which is nice and all, but what's with the picture of the 7-year old girl in the woods? There's nothing about this cover that ties into the story.

The Deal:

Once upon a time there a girl who was special. This is not her story. Unless you count the part where I killed her.

Cue dramatic music, etc. Looking back, I wonder why I was SO put off by this tag line; (because it's so bad, it could be good, right?!) nevertheless, it caused major eye rollage.

Alison wakes up in the hospital with no memory of how she got there. Worse, she is immediately transferred to a mental institution for teens, where, as she begins to get her memory back, she is haunted by the impossible: that she had a fight with a girl at school, and that girl disintegrated before her eyes.

Alison has always seen the world through a different viewfinder, and learned to hide it from an early age -- when her mother would look at her in fear as she talked about words having colors or tastes. But could she have the power to kill someone with her mind? The police are suspicious about Alison's involvement with the disappearance of Tori, but there's no way that Tori actually disintegrated, is there?

BFF Charm: Nay?

Alison, girl, I feel bad for you, I do. I mean really. But am I willing to take on the responsibility of your condition? Am I willing to risk bodily harm if the sights and sounds become too much for you? I wish I could answer differently, but, not gonna lie, I think the answer is 'negatory'. However, there were times when your poor little confused self broke my heart, and I wished I could have given you a hug, like here:

This was my cue to feel ashamed of myself for being angry with him and tell him everything was okay. Because that was what I'd done when he ate all my chocolates. It was what I'd always done with Mel whenever she'd hurt me. And it was what I ended up doing with my mother every time the two of us had a fight. After all, my feelings weren't normal, couldn't be trusted, didn't really matter compared to other people's. Even now I could hear a traitorous little voice in my head nagging, "It's not like he did anything that bad to you, you know. You just being oversensitive.

But I was tired of pretending I didn't care, that I couldn't be hurt. I might not be ready to pour out my feelings to the world, but I'd had enough of trying to ignore them.

Now, from that passage, you might start to wonder, 'hmm, is this a navel-gazing, whiny teenager voice?' but I didn't find that to be the case with Alison. She actually did suffer from something tangible that causes her to question whether anything she feels is real.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

The romance in this book was... problematic for me. Not only did I have a hard time buying it, I had a hard time being OKAY with it at all. So while I'm sure I was supposed to feel tingles and sighs, I couldn't get over the fact that Alison was 16, and Faraday was at least old enough to be in grad school. Then there's the whole doctor/patient thing, even though there's more to it than that but I can't say anything else without spoiling it. But... just... no.

Talky Talk: Little Bit Schizo

Anderson's prose is stark and full of feeling. I was drawn into the story and found it mysterious and enthralling. I couldn't wait to see where it went. But then when it went there... it felt off-putting. See, most of the story takes place in the mental institution where Alison is trapped by her mind and her doctors. Then it goes somewhere completely different in the last three-quarters of the book. And I really liked where it went, but it didn't feel like a smooth transition. The two parts of the stories didn't mesh for me. I simultaneously wanted more time in this different place, and felt like the book had kind of jumped the shark, so to speak.

Bonus Factor: Mystery

I couldn't wait to find out the secrets of this mystery. Why was Alison the way she was? Was all of this in her head? Did she disintegrate that girl? What the eff is going on?!!!

Bonus Factor: Classic Sci-Fi

There were some classic sci-fi elements in this story that I LOVED. It felt like a throw-back to the days when I couldn't get my hands on enough Asimov.

Bonus Factor: Mental Wards

Is this a proper bonus factor? I don't know, but the descriptions of Pine Hills, its residents and staff not only added an element of realism, but I loved getting to know the other kids -- their struggles and their triumphs.

Casting Call:

Britt Robertson as Alison

So, The Secret Circle kind of sucks so far, but I do think she's super cute. Plus, since it's the only real emotion we've seen in the first two episodes, we know that she plays 'vulnerable' really well.

Relationship Status: I'll Visit You In the Psych Ward... Or College. Whichevs.

So listen, book. I judged you by your cover, and for that I apologize. Once I got to know you, I found you both intense and endearing. BUT there are some things about your life choices that I cannot get behind, so I won't ever be offering you my couch to sleep on when you're in town. However, I respect you enough to tell you that to your face, and to also tell you that you made me care enough about you to want to be a part of your life. So, I'll call, okay?

FTC FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my review copy from Lerner Publishing Group. I received neither money nor cocktails for this review (damnit!). Ultraviolet is available now.

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.