Book Review: Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson

Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.

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?

What I thought
As some of you will know already, R.J. Anderson is one of my favourite authors. Her faerie books are what got me started reading other YA books and since then, I have been hooked. As soon as I saw a synopsis for this book, I was dying to read it. It sounded so different to her other books and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

The setting of Ultraviolet is something I have never seen done before. The majority of the book is set in a mental institution which makes for interesting reading. The characters which are found here all have a different ‘condition’ or problems, making them varied and quite colourful at the same time. Some of the slightly more outspoken of the bunch made the story comical when it really shouldn’t have been, although this was no bad thing. The people being treated know exactly what they are in there for and some of them just make a big joke about it which enabled a lighter feel in places.

Before I started this book, I had no idea what to expect. No one else I know had read it yet and I refused to read any reviews on Goodreads so nothing was spoilt for me. As you can see from the synopsis, it sounds like a mystery more than anything else but there is really so much more to it than that. At a particular point in the book, everything changes and all of the little pieces of the puzzle click into place. This was not something I was expecting at all and something that I would have never seen coming in a million years. It takes so much to truly shock me in books but R.J. Anderson managed the near impossible. I was speechless and sat staring at the pages with my jaw on the floor!

Although the story has quite a slow pace, I couldn’t imagine it any other way. After a traumatic experience, Alison needed time to figure out what was happening and for everything else about the story to unfold. I loved how different little details were explored and how the story unfolded. Just when I thought I knew what was happening, a surprise or two was thrown in and I was completely thrown off track. As well as the main mystery of what happened to Tori, the secondary characters provided nice distractions from what was going on with Alison. It broke the story up a little bit and made it so something was always happening.

Alison was a fantastic character and one I loved immediately, even under the strange circumstances. It is clear to see that she really has no idea what is going on and seeing how confused she was just made me empathise with her more. Being forced to do something you don’t want to do is bad enough but being put in a mental institution is terrible. Some of the staff comment on her violet outbursts and how unstable she is but wouldn’t you act out if you were put in the same situation. I would kick and scream as loudly as I could if that was me.

Early on, Alison describes her problems in great detail and they are beautifully written. Alison has a condition called synaesthesia which is where two or more of the five senses that are normally experienced separately are involuntarily and automatically joined together. Some synaesthetes experience colour when they hear sounds or read words. Others experience tastes, smells, shapes or touches in almost any combination. As Alison described what was happening to her and what she experienced, I felt as though I could see and feel exactly what she was, putting me right in the middle of her story. While this was something that I had never even heard of before Anderson does an amazing job of making it understandable for anyone and something which is easy to follow. Due to her experiences synaesthesia, her world is colourful, intriguing and most of all, quite breathtaking. At the same time, I could understand her confusion, not knowing what it was she was living with.

As Alison is struggling with her time being an involuntary patient, a saviour arrives in the form of Sebastian Faraday. Faraday knows more than anyone else has about what Alison experiences which shocks her. He listens to her and doesn’t tell her she is crazy, unlike some other people. When no one else is really there for her, Faraday is and he doesn’t make assumptions about her. I would have liked for a little bit more from Faraday earlier on in the story but he more than made up for that absence later on. He was genuine and caring towards Alison and because of this, I couldn’t help but love him. The relationship between the two happens at a slow pace but if it hadn’t been like this, I wouldn’t have agreed with it so much. Their relationship is sweet and innocent but their story is heart-warming and beautiful as well. Within this, R.J. Anderson has created the most beautiful kiss in a YA novel ever written. Seriously, without describing it in its entirety, I don’t think I can do it the justice it deserves. It completely took my breath away.

If you haven’t read anything yet by this amazing author, start with Ultraviolet. You will not be disappointed. Every single little detail put into this story only added to the reasons why R.J. Anderson is one of my favourite authors. Her writing never fails to amaze me and she comes up with something different every time. One of my favourite books of the year and one not to be missed!


  1. I love the sound of this book - I@d not heard about it before but your review and the premise really intrigues me - I'm heading over to order a copy! Thanks :)

  2. Great review, I have enjoyed this one but I didn't like it as much as you did.
    I did love Alison as a character thou and some of the descriptive language was just beautiful.

  3. Yay- I'm glad you liked this, I keep seeing neg reviews on blogs but from the blurb I really thought I'd like it. I'm hoping to start reading this myself next week. (Plus I also loved Anderson's fairy books!)

  4. I've never heard of this book, or this author, before! Ultraviolet sounds like a very interesting, unique read. I've always loved psychological thrillers, but have yet to read one in YA lit! Great review! :)
    - Alyssa of Redhead Heroines

  5. I've only sort of skimmed your review as I don't want to know too much about the book before I read it. I haven't read anything by the author before and I'm really excited about this one.

  6. I've just received this one for review and I can't wait to start it. I love RJ Anderson's faerie books too so I'm expecting this one to be just as good!


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