Ultraviolet  - R.J. Anderson 3 1/2 stars

I know a whole bunch of my GR friends have heard me say this before but I'm going to say it again for the benefit of any newcomers who stumble across this review: because rating a book can be a tricky process and three stars can mean anything from "I was totally unmoved by it" to "it was pretty good for the most part", I tend to take the GR system literally. By this I mean that three stars is "I liked it" and is a mostly positive rating. Therefore, [b:Ultraviolet|8843789|Ultraviolet (Ultraviolet, #1)|R.J. Anderson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1338688532s/8843789.jpg|13718670] hovers somewhere halfway between "I liked it" and "I really liked it" because there were parts I absolutely loved but also many things that got on my nerves and had me mentally lowering my rating. I will say one thing for certain: I need to read the sequel. NOW.

The suspense that Anderson builds up in this book is almost palpable, you find yourself questioning everything and experiencing the frustration of someone who is imprisoned in a mental institution when they feel they are innocent, then later the confusion of someone who begins to doubt their own sanity. Being inside Alison's mind is a scary place to find yourself but, though there is a paranormal element to this novel, you soon find that the author has weaved fact with fiction and incorporated a real-world factor into her story - synesthesia. This is something I had only heard of in passing before I read [b:Ultraviolet|8843789|Ultraviolet (Ultraviolet, #1)|R.J. Anderson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1338688532s/8843789.jpg|13718670], but I have since been inspired to do some more research on the topic. I enjoyed this addition to the novel immensely, simply because it would have been far easier - and what I first expected - to explain away a character's special abilities as some weird supernatural phenomenon.

However, Alison's synesthesia leads me perfectly onto what was at times the greatest threat to my enjoyment of the book and at other times what made me go wide-eyed with adoring book love - the prose. Some of it reminded me of [b:Shatter Me|10429045|Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)|Tahereh Mafi|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1310649047s/10429045.jpg|15333458] (but it wasn't that bad or I wouldn't have finished it) and the explanation of synesthesia for the use of colour-based metaphors might make sense but it didn't make it any less annoying for me. Take this:

Not only was his voice amazing, so was his name: violet to match his eyes, tranquil and playful at the same time, full of shimmering highlights and unexpected depths. And the Sebastian part wasn't bad either - all oregano and woodsmoke, with a hint of sensuality that made my skin flush just thinking about it.

and

I preferred handwriting, where every loop sent a flush of aquamarine up my arm as though I'd dipped it in a tropic sea.

and

"There. Are. No. Stars," she hissed, her voice full of icy peaks and seething valleys.

To me, these sentences are not beautiful but eyeroll-worthy. Unlike [b:Shatter Me|10429045|Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)|Tahereh Mafi|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1310649047s/10429045.jpg|15333458], though, the use of them wasn't as constant and I didn't have to hurt myself trying to understand the similes and metaphors. The writing in this book walked a very fine line between stunning and grotesque at times, some passages I could have read over and over for hours without getting tired of them and others made me cringe. To balance out the negative, I wanted to include this little paragraph that I thought was beautiful:

I heard the universe as an oratorio sung by a master choir of stars, accompanied by the orchestra of the planets and the percussion of satellites and moons. The aria they performed was a song to break the heart, full of tragic dissonance and deferred hope, and yet somewhere beneath it all was a piercing refrain of glory, glory, glory. And I sensed that not only the grand movements of the cosmos, but everything that had happened in my life, was a part of that song.

Also, while this novel was highly original for the most part, the romance and the love interest were not. Or at least not for the first two thirds of the book. It began as it usually begins with descriptions of his male perfection, everything from his eyes to his hands to his voice was crafted by the gods, apparently. He is the nicest of the nice, the hottest of the hot... the, um, perfectist of the perfect. Later, he is allowed a few imperfections that help to shape his character and made me like him more but the lack of chemistry at the beginning made it hard to buy into their relationship. Not only that, but it also seemed very inappropriate at first due to the circumstances under which they met.

Now, I have to say that I knew what the big twist was before I began this book but I enjoyed it anyway and I don't really think it had much effect on my overall rating. The thing is, it's ridiculously easy to spoil this book for yourself just by looking at its tags and shelves on goodreads - so, you know, try not to glance over to the right side of the page when you add this. Which you totally should do right now. This is a gripping psychological paranormal story that offers a new spin on a very formulaic genre, it is not faultless but it will keep you on the edge of your seat. I am betting that 99% of people who read this will have to read the sequel even if they shared the same problems I had with it.