R. J. Anderson: Ultraviolet, #1 in the Ultraviolet series

2011 Nominee, Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

R. J. Anderson UltravioletUltraviolet (2013 paperback)
by R. J. Anderson
First published: Carolrhoda Books, 2011
ISBN-10: 0761374086
306 pages

From the novel:

“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 wakes up in a mental institution. As she pieces her memory back together, she realizes she’s confessed to murdering Tori Beaugrand, the most perfect girl at school. But the case is a mystery. Tori’s body has not been found, and Alison can’t explain what happened. One minute she was fighting with Tori. The next moment Tori disintegrated–into nothing.

But that’s impossible. No one is capable of making someone vanish. Right? Alison must be losing her mind–like her mother always feared she would.

For years Alison has tried to keep her weird sensory abilities a secret. No one ever understood–until a mysterious visiting scientist takes an interest in Alison’s case. Suddenly, Alison discovers that the world is wrong about her–and that she’s capable of far more than anyone else would believe.”

Young Adult fiction suitable for ages 12+, grades 7 – 9.

Part of the Ultraviolet series:

Ultraviolet (Ultraviolet #1)
Quicksilver (Ultraviolet #2)

Guesstimated Satisfaction:

I think the sort of reader who chooses this title has a 79% chance of liking this book, probably quite a bit. You may be part of the 21%, however. My estimation is based on a casual review of a variety of factors and some good, old-fashioned gut instinct. I’ve never ended anyone with a bad book suggestion. Just sayin’.

Awards and Critical Reception

2011 Nominee, Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

2012 Shortlist, Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic

“A compelling and intricately woven fantasy about prejudice, mental illness, and coming to terms with the layers of history and identity…A deeply empathetic study of a young woman’s struggle to make sense of her pathologized difference, Ultraviolet is a refreshingly rich and subtle exploration of emotional and imaginative terrain.”

This breath of fresh air reintroduces readers to traditional science fiction, with the bonus of a strong heroine…Anderson, a Canadian author of fantasy, is an assured storyteller with a knack for creating memorable characters. The barren, northern Ontario setting…slyly accents a twisty plot refreshingly free of YA cliché.Kirkus Review (full review with spoilers, recommends for ages 12+)

Anderson keeps readers guessing throughout with several twists, including a very unexpected divergence in the last third of the book. Ages 12–up.Publishers Weekly (full review with spoilers, recommends for ages 12+)

Collectible Editions

Collectible first edition options for this volume are sort of hit and miss. Gone are the days when booksellers diligently note whether a dust jacket is present or absent by including a rating for it in the description. Ideally, a F/F or NF/NF, or even a VG+/VG- (common) option would exist, but it doesn’t. I find one seller with a New copy for $25.71 and free shipping, but the seller omits mention of the dj. Assume present because new, or contact seller to find out, or toss a coin that it might be received sans jacket and lose most of its value instantly. Alternately, one could order a New copy with New dustjacket for 22.35 + 16.95 s/h out of Canada.


Limited prospects. There don’t appear to be many new copies of the first edition hardcover available, but on researching pricing, availability, and comparables, I find nothing to justify some of the wildly optimistic prices a few sellers have slapped on various of her works. Given that Ultraviolet was nominated for the Andre Norton award, it’s likely a quality read, but the buyer might do best just picking up a new copy of the paperback as linked above. Unless she turns out to be the next J. K. Rowling on her next release, and then you’ll have wished you picked it all up on the cheap when the getting was good. I’m not banking on it.


Collectible Editions and Prognostication commentary copyright 2018, F. W. Balsinger. As of 20 May 2018, links to Amazon.com are affiliate programs links.

Author: Frank Balsinger

Lifelong student with interests a mile wide and an inch deep. Autodidact. Pedant, hopefully of the slightly more pleasant sort. Sharer of things learned along the way. Lately of a creative bent.

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