In a change of pace from her Faery Hunters series, Anderson blends paranormal, science fiction, and scientific elements in an intriguing story about a teenager who is convinced that she’s crazy—and a murderer—though reality is even more unpredictable. Sixteen-year-old Alison Jeffries awakens in the psych ward of a hospital, and is soon transferred to a treatment center for “youth in crisis.” The police, meanwhile, believe Alison knows something about the disappearance of her classmate, Tori. She does. Alison had watched Tori disintegrate before her eyes, and she believes that her barely understood “powers” are to blame. With the help of Sebastian Faraday, a mysterious neuropsychologist, Alison starts to get answers: she is a synesthete—her senses of smell, taste, sight, and hearing intertwined in surprising ways—as well as a tetrachromat, able to perceive ultraviolet light. Alison’s conditions allow the author to give her some enviable abilities and use some creative descriptions (Faraday’s voice tastes, to Alison, like “ark chocolate, poured over velvet). Anderson keeps readers guessing throughout with several twists, including a very unexpected divergence in the last third of the book. Ages 12�up. (Sept.)
ALAN Review - Diana Liu
Shortly after waking up in a hospital, 16-year-old Alison is transferred to the Pine Hills Psychiatric Treatment Centre. At first her memory is hazy, but as she spends more time in Pine Hills, Alison realizes that she is the prime suspect in a bizarre murder case. Although she has confessed to murdering Tori Beaugrand, high school golden girl, the police cannot locate Tori's body, and even Alison can't quite explain how Tori managed to disappear into thin air. Everything changes, though, when a mysterious scientist visits the center and takes an interest in Alison and the unusual sensory powers that she has had ever since her youth. With his help, Alison is not only able to figure out what really happened to Tori, but also discover the true capacity of her extraordinary abilities. Anderson builds her story up slowly at first; however, the plot's many shocking twists will grab hold of readers and keep them guessing until the very end. Reviewer: Diana Liu
VOYA - Lindsey Weaver
When Alison wakes up in a psychiatric ward, she has no clue where she is or how she got there. Bit by bit, her memory of the horrifying event comes back to her. She had confessed to murdering Tori Beaugrand, the most popular girl at school. Tori's body, however, is nowhere to be found, and the only thing Alison remembers is disintegrating Tori into a million tiny pieces. Confined to Pine Hill, Alison continues to hide her eccentric sensory conditionthe thing that had ruined her relationship with her mother. But when a visiting neuropsychology graduate student comes to collect data for his thesis, Alison discovers her condition is not at all what she thought. Suddenly she is capable of much more than anyone could imagine. Anderson uses stunning sensory details to bring Alison's condition to life. The reader can understand what it is like to taste numbers and feel syllables through the beautifully written descriptions. Unlike any other paranormal story, Ultraviolet is a multilayered roller-coaster ride that looks at a dysfunctional family and backstabbing friends, as well as the strange world beyond. The author plays around with genre bending as she takes a murder mystery and twists it into a sci-fi thriller that feels a little like A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. High school teens looking for an original, suspenseful read will enjoy this book. It is a great fit for any young adult collection. Reviewer: Lindsey Weaver
Children's Literature - Denise Daley
Alison sees things in a wide range of colors; many of which are not visible to most people. Her classmate Tori had golden hair, turquoise eyes, and peach-tinted skin. Tori also has an odd sun-shaped blemish above her elbow; but is that why Alison killed her? After all, Alison was the last person to see Tori before she disappeared, and Alison remembers nothing except for a fight from which she returned screaming and bloody. Now Alison is in a young person's mental institution, where a promising young doctor identifies her condition as the rare ability to experience a sensory stimulation when another sense is stimulated, such as tasting colors. Alison is disheartened when the doctor is dismissed from the facility as a fraud. She runs away with him only to learn that he is actually from another planet and that Tori is still alive and is being held captive in another dimension. The story is initially captivating and intriguing, but it eventually becomes unrealistic and far-fetched. Still, readers will be engrossed and will anxiously keep reading, if only to find out if Alison is truly mentally ill, or if the aliens really do exist. Reviewer: Denise Daley
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Alison, 16, wakes up in a mental hospital, her tangled memories offering glimpses of a struggle and horrible death of a classmate. Readers learn that she believes she caused her classmate to disintegrate, that she has confessed to this, and that the student is now missing. What follows is much more than a harrowing adolescent-in-pysch-hospital "problem book" than one might expect. For one thing, Alison has synesthesia, a neurological condition in which the stimulation of one sense leads to experience in one or more other senses. For example, the teen can taste lies and see colors nobody else can. She also has an eidetic memory and other enhanced perceptions. Synesthesia is a recognized phenomenon often associated with creativity, and is not itself a mental illness. Alison learns that she is gifted, not insane, from a young man studying her condition who is not who he claims to be. Once his origins are revealed, the story loses some of its pace and originality, and things are tied up a little too neatly at the end, but Ultraviolet is still a first-rate read.—Corinne Henning-Sachs, Walker Memorial Library, Westbrook, ME
Once upon a time "science fiction" was not invariably preceded by "dystopian," nor was it just a handy synonym for "paranormal." This breath of fresh air reintroduces readers to traditional science fiction, with the bonus of a strong heroine.
Alison, 16, has been hospitalized ever since her beautiful, popular classmate, Tori, disappeared. Her claim that she disintegrated Tori landed her in the psychiatric ward and soon gets her transferred to a residential treatment facility for seriously disturbed teen patients. Confused, conflicted, fighting the deadening effects of medication, Alison is desperate to leave the hospital yet fearful of what she might do if freed. These worries are complicated by her long-held secret: She has synesthesia. This sensory cross-wiring causes Alison to experience numbers as colors; she hears stars and tastes lies. She's long obeyed her mother's warning to tell no one. Now a mysterious, attractive young doctor has nosed out her secret. Anderson, a Canadian author of fantasy, is an assured storyteller with a knack for creating memorable characters. The barren, northern Ontario setting—where NASA astronauts once trained for moon landings—slyly accents a twisty plot refreshingly free of YA cliché.
In bracing contrast to her passive, vampire-fodder counterparts, Alison steers her own course throughout her multi-layered journey—a thoroughly enjoyable ride. (author's note) (Science fiction. 12 & up)