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?

It was this short blurb which made me pick up this book, but it was the level of writing which had me reading it over the course of just two days. Although this is apparently classified as a YA novel, I would say it’s more than suitable for us older readers as well.

I have to say, being in the YA section, and stating that Tori disintegrated, I was a little concerned that it would stray into the realm of paranormal fantasy, considering it’s popularity, but I’m glad to say it didn’t. In fact, the ending goes into the sci-fi realm, which was surprising, but actually worked. It’s a risky twist, and not necessarily needed, but it certainly adds a fast moving finish, and the way it’s written means it just seems to make sense. Plus, it may not actually be quite what it seems…. ;)

The main part of the story, however, deals with Alison’s experience of her apparent mental health issues, and her breakdown. She spends much of her time in a psychiatric unit for younger people, where she meets some interesting, varied characters. All the time though, we are encouraged to question our perceptions and judgements. Alison herself is a fascinating character, very well written, and rather loveable. Even within her unusual circumstances, she experiences friendship, betrayal and even love – but all done in a subtle way, rather than teenage angst.

Overall, this is a book which brings something a little different to the YA market. It’s multi-layered and well written. It was great to read, but more importantly has stayed with me, and even grown in my estimation. Highly recommended, unless you feel the sci-fi twist is not for you.. although I’d still say give it a try! :)

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