Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Sci-Fi
Pub. Date: Feb. 2005, Simon & Schuster
Format: Paperback, 425 pages
Source/FTC Disclosure: I purchased my copy of this book. I was in no way compensated for this review and my opinions are my own.
Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license -- for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.
But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world -- and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.
This book had been on my wish list for awhile, and I finally picked it up when we were on vacation in Florida a couple of weeks ago. I started it yesterday afternoon and found myself already finishing it earlier today. The book had me intrigued (and laughing) at the first line: "The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit." Tell me that doesn't catch your attention. Admittedly, as I continued reading, the story took a bit of getting used to and felt like it was off to a slow start, but that was mainly because Westerfeld had to devote many pages to what I call the backstory before he could really get into the action and crux of the adventure.
Westerfeld has created an interesting story that focuses on topics that teens (and former teens and probably tweens, too) can relate to: body image, peer pressure, self-worth and self-confidence. But with Uglies, he's done this in a very creative, captivating way. Westerfeld's writing style isn't earth-shattering and his futuristic ideas take some getting used to, but overall the book was a very easy, fast read, despite being over 400 pages. I really liked Tally and grew quite attached to her--Westerfeld did a great job with her character development. I could see it coming when she unwittingly notified the authorities (the "Specials" or Special Circumstances) of her whereabouts with Shay (and other uglies, known as the Smokies) and was interested to see how her apparent betrayal would be handled. I was not disappointed. The book closes with Tally making a difficult but necessary choice that sends her back to become a Pretty. And naturally, that's where Uglies leaves off and Pretties begins.
I really wasn't sure at first if I was going to like this book, but in the end I really did. I was a little turned off by Westerfeld's treatment of various issues that may or may not have led to the Rusties' (that's us, if I'm not mistaken) downfall, but was able to separate that from the real story that was being told. In fact, I liked the book so much that I've had to change up my reading plans for the week because I went ahead and bought Pretties, and have already started reading it!
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