Meet four best friends. They’re not super… yet.
IRIS: Visionary, artist, leader–the glitter-glue that holds the group together.
CHERI: A girly-girl on platform roller-skates who’s never met a rescue puppy she didn’t immediately-and-madly love.
SCARLET: Short enough that you won’t see her sneaking up behind you. Freckled enough that you might mistake her for innocent. But look out! She can pants a bully faster than you can say O-M-Jeepers!
OPALINE: Loveable, huggable, supershy, sweet as pie…or is she?
And introducing CANDACE. Not just any babysitter—she’s a Teen Genius, thankyouverymuch!
What happens when four best friends find themselves splattered with mysterious purple goo during a routine sleepover? Iris, Cheri, Scarlet and Opaline are about to become…
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from The Ultra Violets, but I figured there was no harm in giving it a try. And I am quite glad that I did; The Ultra Violets is friggin’ awesome.
Let’s start with the artwork. Does that cover up there remind you of anything? For me, it struck me as kind of cross between Powerpuff Girls and Johnny Test–and it turns out that there’s a reason it seemed so familiar. As it turns out, the artist, Chris Battle, has worked on some of my favorite childhood shows, including Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Laboratory, and Xiaolin Showdown, and his work really brings some extra magic to the book. I absolutely love it.
But that’s not to say that the book itself can’t hold its own. The Ultra Violets genuinely surprised me; I expected some child-aimed superhero stuff mixed in with friendship themes and maybe a love interest or two… and when I got instead was a hilarious, clever story about four very modern “BFFs”, their über-genius ex-babysitter, and an immoral science corporation up to no good. It’s absolutely the kind of thing I would expect to watch on Cartoon Network, thanks to both Battle and Bell’s input.
In The Ultra Violets, Sophie Bell offers up a spectacular blend of pop-culture references (everything from the Bangles to Lady Gaga to Star Wars to lolcats to Pokemon) and wordplay (“full frontal nerdity”, “the Joan River”, “the Helter Shelter”), plus a main cast of girls who each happen to be an endearing kind of super trendy, futuristic Valley Girl. Each of them, save perhaps Opaline, is chic, obviously affluent, and constantly spouting goofball slang like “viomazing!” It is absolutely hilarious.
Now, I imagine that these same things will frustrate some individuals every bit as much as they delight me; if you’re not up for reading something that exudes adorability and pop culture from its every pore, The Ultra Violets probably isn’t for you. Seriously, damn near every word of this book–and those words are written in purple, by the way (which I honestly found a bit hard to read in certain lighting, so that may be an issue for some individuals)–seems to be a reference or a pun of some kind, and again, I love it. It is just the wackiest shit, and I grinned like a moron the whole way through.
And if you’ve noticed how critical and serious I am about most books… well, it’s downright amazing how much I loved this; if the rest of the series is as great as this first novel, I sense a new potential favorite. I definitely can’t wait to get my hands on the sequels–my local library finally bought copies!–and I will absolutely look into reading more of Bell’s work in the future.
I highly recommend The Ultra Violets to any middle grade readers interested in reading about some kick-ass superheroines.
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