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Saturdays in Books

Reviews of speculative fiction, YA, middle grade, and graphic novels, along with stray thoughts, links, and pictures.

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The SFWA European Hall of Fame: Sixteen Contemporary Masterpieces of Science Fiction from the Continent
Kathryn Morrow, James K. Morrow

Review: Ultra Violets

The Ultra Violets - Sophie Bell

I've been putting off reviewing this one so I could take some time to decide what I thought. That has utterly failed to work out. New plan, maybe writing this review will help me figure it out.


This is fun, and does a great job of including a wide range of female characters, not just the titular quartet, but everywhere. Every named scientist in this book is a woman, for example, good or mad. And technology and sparkle go hand in hand, but not to the exclusion of technology and tomboy.


At times, it's a little too twee for my tastes. Particularly where it breaks the fourth wall. I also wonder if some of the memes it references will age it fast. Is icanhascheezburger still a thing? I know the website still exists, but is it still a thing?


From the cover, and in the illustrations throughout, Cheri is black. But at no point does the text ever reference this. "Colorblind" writing or artistic license? The only time any character's skin is describes is in reference to Scarlet's freckles and Opaline's blushing. There are places where the illustrations are out of step with the text. For example, the text describes a character wearing a lab coat, but she isn't in the accompanying illustration. Another time, a character's hair is in a bun, but she's drawn with a ponytail. So I just don't know.


The way the girl's powers are at odds with their characters is very interesting. Artist Iris's power manifests first as purple hair, forcing her first to adapt to life looking more rebellious than she is. Her actual power aligns with her interests, but there are times when the making part of art is as important to her as the finished piece. Cheri is all about fashion and loves animals, so suddenly being a mathematical genius wasn't really in her plans. And while tomboy Scarlet has always been the more athletic of the girls, dancing was never something she'd have taken up by choice. Watching each one adapt to this change is by far the best part of the book.


Yeah, I still don't know. I already own all three of these, though, so I guess I'll have two books to decide if I like this or not.