Title: Ultraviolet
Author: R. J. Anderson
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Release Date: 09/01/2011

When I read the synopsis for Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson on NetGalley, I assumed it was a paranormal story, which is why I requested it. As it turns out, it isn’t really all that paranormal until towards the end, but I was not at all disappointed by this. Ultraviolet turned out to be completely enthralling without the paranormal aspect that usually draws me to YA books.

The story revolves around Alison, a 16-year old girl who believes she killed the most popular girl in school, Tori. Not only does Alison think she killed Tori, but she firmly believes she actually disintegrated the girl. Tori did seem to disappear off the face of the earth, and Alison was the last person to see her. It doesn’t help that Alison had Tori’s blood on her hands when she came flying into her house in a total fit of rage. The next thing Alison knows, she’s waking up in a mental ward, being shipped off to another mental hospital for teenagers suffering a range of mental conditions.

Alison struggles to prove she’s sane while questioning that fact herself. She hides her unique abilities from her psychiatrist and everyone else because she was taught to do so long ago by a seemingly cold and unfeeling mother. Alison isn’t a vampire, werewolf, or ghost whisperer. She’s really not all that paranormal at all. She’s a synesthete someone who can hear colors, taste words, and see sounds. While this is a very real condition, Alison’s is amplified a bit more than a typical synesthete.  Alison doesn’t even know that her condition has a name, let alone is fairly common (1 in 23 people have some form of synethesia, according to the author) until a mysterious scientist comes into her life.

R. J. Anderson really brings synesthesia to life through Alison’s descriptions. I really did find myself understanding how a number can be a color, how a voice could taste like chocolate, and how other senses could kick in cause something as simple as a song to become a full sensory experience. Those descriptions alone were so beautifully written and impressive that I wasn’t at all upset to find that I wasn’t reading the traditional paranormal story that I was expecting. In fact, I’m very happy that I misinterpreted the synopsis, otherwise I may have passed up this great story that, at its heart, is really about a young girl trying to figure out who and what she is, and whether or not she’s normal or completely insane. I can totally relate!