"Alison wakes up in a mental institution with no memory of the past two weeks. The bits of time she pieces together point to a violent episode that caused the death of her classmate Tori. As she slowly remembers what happened, Alison worries that she really is crazy because she can only remember Tori disintegrating into nothing. An undiagnosed synesthete, Alison has always seen numbers as colors, tasted lies, and seen colors no one else can. While Alison is in the hospital, Dr. Faraday, a neuropsychologist studying synesthesia, finally puts a name to and an explanation of how Alison’s brain is wired. This is a unique insight into the life of someone with synesthesia, and the look at life inside a mental hospital is a natural grabber for teens. The story makes a dramatic shift in the final third of the book when the true origins of Faraday and what really happened to Tori are revealed. It is a genre-shifting turn that will leave some disappointed but will surely invigorate others." Booklist
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.)
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)