Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson, published by Orchard Books on 2nd June 2011
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?
Perplexing and mind-twisting, 'Ultraviolet' is a book unlike any other. Just when you think you have a firm grasp on what's happening, R.J. Anderson throws an almight curve ball at you and you suddenly have to start all over again.
This review is going to be deliberately vague and cryptic because the book itself is cryptic and some things are very much left up to your own perception of events. It's also the kind of book that you want to pick-up and read, being totally unspoiled about the plot, so that you can form your own conclusions and opinions about the story and characters.
The book is set in a mental hospital where 16 year old Alison has been admitted by her mother after suffering what is thought to be a mental breakdown following the mysterious disappearance of another girl at her school. Alison is suspected of being involved in this and has to deal with the fact that she may very well have even killed her. But that's up to you to decide. The story is presented to the reader and then it's left up to you to determine whether or not what you're reading is fact or fiction.
I was continually changing my mind about Alison and how I felt about her but I thought she was an incredibly interesting and intriguing character. She has some fascinating characteristics which are revealed as the story goes on and this added another layer of interest to the book. Although living in a mental hospital, she seems amazingly sane a lot of the time and I felt an enormous amount of empathy for her as she struggles to convince the people around her, her doctor and her family that she's not mad. I enjoyed reading about her relationship with Faraday, who is the only one who seems to understand Alison. Their friendship starts off tentatively and is carried out very much by the book but as they get to know one another the rules don't seem to mean so much anymore.
The story itself is divided into three parts and starts slowly but soon gathers pace as more and more is revealed about Alison and how she ended up in the hospital. The third part of the story left me utterly shocked and turned everything on its head. It opened up a whole new angle to the book and literally had me gasping with astonishment. Now that, is the sign of a good book! I actually stayed up really late to finish reading it because there was no way I could sleep with so many questions left unanswered. Even after I'd finished it though, I was still puzzling over it and thinking things through.
'Ultraviolet' is an intelligent and amazing read. If you've never read anything by R.J. Anderson before then this is definitely the book to start with. I thought it was utterly fantastic and will be picking it back up for a re-read at some point soon. I've also read that R.J. Anderson may write a companion novel to 'Ultraviolet' which is something I for one would love to see!