Westerfeld, Scott. Uglies. Simon Pulse, 2005. 406 pages. ISBN 978-1-41693-638-1
Fifteen year old Tally lives on the Uglies side, but once she turns sixteen she will be able to get plastic surgery like all other sixteen year olds and then she can live on the Pretty side. Her best friend has already been made pretty and is living on the Pretty side, so she is feeling kind of lonely. Then she meets a new friend, Shay, who says she doesn’t want to be made pretty and is planning on running away to the Smoke, an abandoned town on the outside. Tally is struggling to choose between her new best friend and becoming pretty. When Shay talks Tally into coming with her to the Smoke, Tally learns a whole new side to becoming pretty. When they do the cosmetic surgery to make you pretty, they also do a lobotomy on you so that you are no longer the same person you were before, and nobody remembers it. Now that Tally knows she wants to run away, but the Special Forces are on to her and things get heated.
This is a futuristic dystopian science fiction novel. There are two kinds of people in Westerfeld’s Uglies novel and that is ugly people and pretty people. And they don’t even generally live together. Once you turn sixteen you get to go under a cosmetic operation and be pretty afterward, however the down side to this is they also perform a lobotomy on you to dumb you down so you are not the same person you were before. Becoming ‘pretty’ is what everybody wants, except for Shay, Tally’s new best friend. Tally can either follow Shay into the Smoke and stay ‘ugly’ or turn Shay in to the authorities and become ‘pretty’ like everyone else. However, circumstance change after Tally meets David, an ugly outsider, who fills her in and changes her mind about becoming pretty. Westerfeld does a great job on highlighting government conspiracies and the evils of Big Brother as well as urging people to be individuals rather than conforming to a standard uniformity. Just because other people may do it doesn’t mean you should do it, personal free will is a gift that should be used. Also, you shouldn’t judge people by how they look.
How would you like it if you could become drop dead gorgeous and live with other drop dead gorgeous people? All you have to do is turn 16. Now, why would Tally not want to do such a thing?
Scott Westerfeld is the author of eighteen novels. He was born in Texas, and splits his time between New York City and Sydney, Australia. He has also worked as an occasional ghost writer. He wrote music for downtown New York dancers. He is best known for his four sets of books for young adults. The most recent is the Leviathan trilogy. His most famous works are those of the Uglies series. The series consists of a trilogy, Uglies, Pretties and Specials, and a companion novel, Extras. He has written another YA trilogy called Midnighters.
He also has a set of books which is often called “The New York Trilogy.” It consists of three novels all set in contemporary New York, but it is not a real trilogy. The first is So Yesterday, about a cool hunter who runs afoul of a plot to end consumerism. The second book is called Peeps, a “vampire” novel. And the third book is The Last Days, set in the same world as Peeps.
Ugly and pretty, those are the only types of people around.
Could becoming pretty really be that bad? Tally didn’t think so, until she met Shay.
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Why I included this book:
I read this book a few years ago and remember it being mentioned during an elluminate and thought it would be a good addition to my collection. Once you get used to the strange language, this is a fantastic novel, and series.