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YA, Sci-Fi/Thriller, 410 pages, Orchard
- Series: 1st in the Ultraviolet series
- Pub date: June 2 2011
- Why I read it: Girls with superpowers, mystery, mental hospitals
- Disclosure: Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!
Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.The Long...
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?
It's been about five months since I've read this book. I've tried writing three drafts of this review. And none of them has come out quite right. Many aspects of Ultraviolet are exactly what I'd like to see more of in YA: a heroine who is as gutsy as she is broken and who has to put the pieces together on her own to face her own demons; an intriguing sci-fi twist; a mystery that genuinely kept me on my toes. What about those things didn't add up for me? I'm not sure, and I'm trying to figure it out.
It's difficult to explain what's irking me, too, when so much of the narrative tension of Ultraviolet rests on its twists. There's little I can say that won't crack this story wide open, and that's the last thing I want to do when I'm writing a review.
I'll give it my best shot anyway.
We're introduced the Alison at the height of her panic. She doesn't know what's wrong with her, and no one else seems to know, either. We're thrown into the middle of her psychotic breaks again and again, and this is where Anderson's writing shines: we feel for Alison, and we're scared of her, too.
Then there is the charismatic doctor who offers to give Alison her answers. There's something off about him, and we don't know what until about three twists later. Then there is the girl Alison thinks she killed. And then. And then.
Maybe that's what's bothering me: it's a fun little roller coaster ride that throws you for a loop again and again, but once you climb off, you look back and realize it wasn't that great after all. There isn't a lingering feeling of...well, anything, other than faint disappointment. You thought you were going somewhere, and it turns out there's nowhere to go: just confusion and a half-hearted cliffhanger ending. Anderson crams so much into her third act that it left me breathless, but once I had the time to take a step back, it felt wrong.
It's not bad, is what I'm saying. In fact, it's pretty good, and I can think of a whole slew of people who might enjoy it. It just wasn't as great as it could have been, and the disappointment is swallowing everything else.
...and the Short:
It's an intriguing roller coaster ride, but the third act fails to deliver upon the slow-moving promise of the first two. Worth reading, but perhaps not reading again.
The Final Word: Meh.