Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In every novel worth its name there is an abundance of figures of speech such as metaphor, simile, oxymoron. They are part of the texture of the narration and are employed to enforce the first rule of Writing 101, which is to show and not to tell.
I remember quite distinctly having studied rhetorical figures during my high school years in Italian classes and I knew synesthesia from such classes. I still remember one example quite distinctly taken from a poem by Pascoli: “un pigolio di stelle” – a chirping of stars. In a synesthesia you juxtapose two terms which belong to two different sensorial plains, ex. “a bitter smell”.
I never, ever knew it could be – actually, the figure of speech probably comes from – a neurological condition.
In this book, at least in the first part, such figures of speech not only abound, but are the foundation on which the whole novel is based.
Alison wakes up in a mental ward. She barely remembers what led her to being committed, except that she’s had a mental breakdown and that she probably has murdered her high school nemesis by…. disintegrating her.
With the help of Faraday, a fascinating therapist, she will discover the truth behind her unlikely condition and what really happened the night she does not remember.
This book is, without a doubt, the weirdest I have read in a long time. It starts off as one genre and then, three quarters into it, completely turns into something else. And when I say weird I mean that it’s like you’re reading a scene from Wuthering Heights and Martin McFly on the Delorean comes stealing the scene. That kind of weird.
But I’d rather not talk about the plot or the characters any more because it’s really better if you go into this book by not knowing anymore that what I already said.
I am still not sure I completely appreciated the plot twist and probably never will make up my mind. I really, really liked the first part and for me it was a 5 star all the way but all of a sudden… the plot takes a weird turn, the register drops, the figures of speech disappear and… you might or might not like it. It still deserves a solid four stars in my opinion, the writing is extremely good, well worth reading this original story but I have to confess that to me it kind of stopped making sense from a certain point on.
In fact, the question that was in my mind while reading and that honestly I still haven’t completely discarded is: is Alison an unreliable narrator?
To me this question is still open, and since I am pretty sure there is going to be a – or maybe multiple – sequel/s to this YA book which certainly deserves a special attention and that deviates from “the usual”, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens next.
Definitely recommended, the writing is exceptional.
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