Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Orchard books
UK Release date: June 2011
Genre: Paranormal Sci-Fi
Sixteen year old Alison wakes up in a psychiatric unit, with little memory of what brought her there. But what she does know is that she has killed someone. She will have to face the truth of her extrasensory perceptions to remember what happened and get her life back on track.
Review: Ultraviolet isn't anything like you might expect. Alison's suffers from a very intriguing condition - she can see sounds, smell colours, and even taste lies. Sadly she can't see the difference between her condition and mental insanity especially after a breakdown where she thinks she has murdered another girl and is now on anti-psychotic drugs in a mental institution. On a light-hearted note, the description of the way she sees sounds and can describe letters is stunning and beautiful.
The fact that her unusual senses are based on a real neurological condition makes it so fascinating and really brings the story to life and makes it more believable. Learning about her mother's rejection and emotional abandonment of her from a young age because of this condition makes me instantly feel sorry for Alison and instantly disapproving of her mother. But it was Alison's down to earth, humble and shy character that made me feel more than just pity for her, but feel really affectionate towards her.
The first two-thirds of the book are based in the psychiatric hospital, but despite this the plot is fast paced and intense. The insight we're given into what sanity and insanity looks like for different people is so different and interesting, and I totally felt for Alison as she struggled to prove to her family, doctor and even herself that she might be both sane and innocent. Often her every move was interpreted as crazy, and it reminded me of this old experiment when normal sane people were put into a mental institution as tests. Their reaction to the environment and boredom was interpreted by real practitioners as symptoms of psychological disorders, despite the fact that absolutely nothing was wrong with them!
The other young people in the ward each have their own issues, from Kirk's flirtations and pyromania to Sanjoy's delusions of alien invasions. Each of the characters felt completely real and really tugged on my heart strings when I learnt more about them and saw some of the sadness in their lives. On the flipside it is also these colourful characters that bring humour and life to the story.
In the third and final part of the story the plot takes an astounding and completely crazy twist. Although I was half expecting it, for some reason it just didn't live up the rest of the book which I absolutely loved. Maybe I wanted something cleverer or even more surreal, I don't know. Overall I really enjoyed Ultraviolet, but the first half was so much stronger for me and so gripping.
Different, gripping and full of psychological struggles, Ultraviolet is a story of how one girl comes to terms with an unusual gift.