Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ultraviolet (review)

4/5 Stars
I knew Ultraviolet was not what I expected before I event started reading.  When I initially saw the tagline "Everything You Believe Is Wrong" I scoffed and didn't think much about the book.  Taglines like that always annoy me because my reaction is "How do you know what I believe? And more importantly how do you know I'm wrong?" Then my friends started reviewing the book, and by reviewing I mean gushing.  So I put aside my annoyance at the marketing scheme and gave the book a chance.

Wow it is really good.  There are so many things that feel like they could go wrong with this book.  It moves slowly, the vast majority of it taking place in a mental institution.  Most of the revelations are through conversation not action.

But you know what? It works.  The author skillfully builds tension, dropping clues along the way.  You can feel the tension, and unlike most slow moving stories you can sense it going somewhere.  The mental institution is interesting, no vilified or glamorized but realistic.  The other patients aren't portrayed as crazies, just people with mental health problems. I appreciate the distinction.  The main character is hyper-aware of her surroundings. The synesthesia adds layers to the story (and is something I completely find fascinating) without being over-described and turning the prose purple.  Everything is always building the story then after moving slowly, methodically, it all starts hurting towards the conclusion.

I loved the ending.  I love how even at the end you're still not sure what just happened.  You'll probably think you know, but you'll still ask yourself, "Did that really just happen?"  And it doesn't feel unsatisfactory, or like the book is saying GOTCHA.  Normally I hate trickery, but in this book it feels right.

The only part of the book I had a problem with was the love story.  It just bothered me and felt unnecessary.  Anything more I say about that point would be a pretty big spoiler.

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