Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review: Ultraviolet Catastrophe

A while back I wrote a review for Jamie Gray's first published short story, Princess for Hire. Today I have the pleasure of doing a review for her first NOVEL. Ultraviolet Catastrophe comes out tomorrow! I'm so excited for Jamie, and I wish her and her book all the best.

Here is the review:


Lexie Kepler is smart... but not abnormally so. She's an average girl from an average divorced home who goes to an average public school. Even her ADHD is normal. She's nothing special.

Or that's what she thinks.

Turns out her ordinariness is completely contrived, all thanks to the drugs her parents have been pumping her with for years. The ADHD drugs? Not for ADHD. Instead they've been suppressing her intelligence. Without them, Lexie's IQ would be off the charts.

Dangerously so. Brains like hers make her a target for those who would use her for nefarious research purposes. And now all her parents' efforts to hide her are failing.

Lexie's only choice is to take refuge at Quantum High, a secret school for geniuses. Unfortunately for her, the lingering effects of the drugs make it hard to fit in. Add in a super hot crush, a new discovery that could either create a wormhole... or maybe cause an explosion worse than an atom bomb, and the death of a scientist under suspicious circumstances, and Lexie's ordinary life may not be quite so average ever again. Assuming she lives long enough to have any sort of life at all, that is.


"You know your life is never going to be the same when your mom pulls a gun at the shopping mall."

From the very first sentence, Ultraviolet Catastrophe by Jamie Grey is an action-rich adventure. It's a novel for geek girls everywhere, particularly those who like a little danger in their plots and a large dash of romance.

The charm of this book is in its unashamed affection for all things sci fi. Quantum High (along with the town it is set in) is an absolute delight. Ultraviolet Catastrophe is one of the few novels that makes me wish I could live in its setting, a place where robot librarians have a personality and hoverboards are an everyday affair. All the geeky details of Lexie's life made me smile, from the Albert Einstein action figure to the Dr. Who cookie jar to the nerdy t shirts worn by her crush, Asher Rosen.

I love the plot of the book as well. I was hooked by the idea of a wormhole machine that could, just maybe, be a weapon in disguise. Thrown in a murder mystery on the side, and this story is just the sort of fun adventure I'm looking for. The last few chapters are gripping, complete with suspenseful countdown.

And Jamie Grey does these things very well. Any time Lexie or someone she cares about is in danger, I'm riveted to the story. Not only that, but Jamie deftly escorts the reader through the tricky bits of physics without any bit of confusion. Anyone could tell just by reading the book how much she loves science, and her enthusiasm is catching.

The book does have a few flaws. For me Lexie's relationship with Asher was too much a focus of the book and detracted from the rest of the plot. Lexie spends most of the book distracted by Asher's good looks, but determined to avoid a relationship, which comes across as playing a long game of hard-to-get. This dynamic may be too familiar for some readers.

Likewise, Lexie's sullenness toward her parents and general flare for drama were a little too expected. She certainly had good reason to be angry, but at times her attitude felt overdone.

Nevertheless, the book is an engaging romp through the fields of quantum physics. I highly recommend it. It's a strong debut, and I look forward to many more novels to come from Jamie Grey.

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