Author: R.J. Anderson
Series: Ultraviolet, #2
Published: May 2nd 2013
Paperback, 384 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
Back in her hometown, Tori Beaugrand had everything a teenaged girl could want—popularity, money, beauty. But she also had a secret. A secret that could change her life in an instant, or destroy it.Now she’s left everything from her old life behind, including her real name and Alison, the one friend who truly understood her. She can’t escape who and what she is. But if she wants to have anything like a normal life, she has to blend in and hide her unusual... talents.Plans change when the enigmatic Sebastian Faraday reappears and gives Tori some bad news: she hasn’t escaped her past. In fact, she’s attracted new interest in the form of an obsessed ex-cop turned investigator for a genetics lab.She has one last shot at getting her enemies off her trail and winning the security and independence she’s always longed for. But saving herself will take every ounce of Tori’s incredible electronics and engineering skills—and even then, she may need to sacrifice more than she could possibly imagine if she wants to be free.
When Quicksilver was first announced, it was said to be a companion novel to Ultraviolet, R.J. Anderson’s unforgettably original novel about a girl with synesthesia. Knowing that, I didn’t expect the two to be so closely connected, but imagine my joy when I realized how wrong I was. Quicksilver is more of a sequel – a continuation of the same story told from a different perspective. I struggled a bit at first because Anderson doesn’t waste precious time on recaps, but I caught up fairly quickly and my emotional attachments were soon reestablished.
Tori’s voice is radically different from Alison’s. For one, she doesn’t have synesthesia so her narration is less colorful and far more composed. She is a very down-to-earth kind of person, which is perhaps an odd thing to say about an alien. Tori is a very competent mechanic and her personality reflects this – she is calm, collected and precise in every situation she gets thrown into.
Now that the chip has been removed from her arm and she can leave town without getting seazures, Tori and her parents are on the run: from detective Deckard, from GeneSystem Laboratories and from the crazy alien scientist Mathis. Desperate to keep Tori safe, they change their names and move to a small Canadian town. But Tori’s past isn’t far behind, and when Sebastian Faraday comes to her with an unlikely solution, she knows she has no choice but to help him.
Despite her loving parents and several other people who care deeply about her, Tori’s loneliness is overwhelming. Hers is a self-imposed isolation, born out of fear of rejections and a strong sense of not belonging, and it was almost unbearable at times. Walls after walls after walls appear, and in many ways, Tori’s existence is even sadder and more solitary than Alison’s.
There is a boy, of course – a loyal, intelligent Korean boy – a friend, pretend boyfriend and quite a few things in between. He is impossible not to like, so Tori decides to do something she’s never done before – be (partially) honest and not give him false hope. She tells him she’s never been attracted to another person in her life, that she’s basically asexual. I loved Anderson’s approach to this. Loved! She never wrote about Tori’s condition as something that needed to be cured or changed, but simply as a fact of life that may or may not be bypassed in the future. Not altered, just worked around. For the millionth time, Anderson did something that’s never been done before, and I applaud her for it.
Alison’s role in Quicksilver is minor, but vital. I’d like to say I missed her the entire time, but the truth is that Tori, Milo and Faraday occupied my every thought and I barely even noticed her absence. When she did join the group, she brought with her the open emotionality Tori sorely lacks, and it was then I realized how different these two books really are.
Enough loose threads were left to make a third book possible, but even if it doesn’t come, I’m happy with where we left things. Once again, Anderson wrote a book that defies all expectations and if we’re lucky, she’ll choose to write another one. If not, we’ll always have Ultraviolet and Quicksilver to remind us that originality isn’t gone, it just hides very well from most authors.