blo Teens Read and Write: Uglies

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Teen Fiction
by Scott Westerfeld
pub: Feb 2005/Simon Pulse
pages: 448

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 wold--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 changers her world forever.

Scott Westerfeld's Uglies is a fantastic book. I know it's an older series but I hadn't read it and after I enjoyed Leviathan so much, I decided to give it a shot. 

As in Leviathan, Westerfeld shines when he's creating an alternate reality. In Uglies he throws us into a dystopian world where anyone that isn't literally perfect is considered hideous and shunned to live a life isolated from the freewheeling hyper-advanced "New Pretty Town" - until their 16th birthday transforms them into the picture of perfection.
 Hmmm...Too skinny! Throw her in with the leper and the guy with the hunchback

Tally Youngblood, an Ugly three months away from her operation, is a likable character - spirited, crafty, and kind - but the quality that really stands out like a sore thumb that constantly pokes you in the eye to remind you it's there is her obsession. It is REALLY annoying. 

Every few minutes Tally likes to remind us how she can't wait to be Pretty, or she points out the flaws of every Ugly she sees in excruciating detail.  

I understand that living in that world with nothing to look forward to except your prettifying 16th B-day could cause mental ailment, and this is her character flaw that she must overcome, but that doesn't make me want to hog-tie and gag her insecure thoughts any less. I got it after the first 100 times she went on and on and on about it.

Unfortunately her new friend Shay (who has the same birthday as Tally) runs off just before their operation talking about about a secret organization called "Smoke" where nobody is Pretty and lives without the comforts and oppressions of the city. Shay tries to convince Tally to come with her but she refuses and Shay leaves her cryptic directions just in case she changes her mind. 

Tally is refused her operation by the mysterious "Special Circumstances," and must choose between betraying her friend or becoming Pretty (which as you may remember is her only conscious thought...occasionally...just behind breathing).

The technology is one of the highlights. Our heroine's (and everyone else outside of the cities) main mode of transportation is by way of hoverboard. Hover technology keeps everything upright and stable. Almost everything is solar powered or self-sustaining in some way and any kind of unnecessary overuse of resources has been banned. I loved this futuristic feel because while it wasn't so advanced that it seemed completely out of touch. 

I liked the way Westerfeld took good things about out society - conservation efforts - and had us develop them in a positive way. But then he took our obsession with youth, physical beauty and aesthetic perfection and evolved it way into the negative. 

The characters are realistic and have plenty of depth - no faceless mannequins whose only purpose is to be a blank canvas for the reader to project themselves upon. But again, Westerfeld's writing is excellent.

Uglies is good for younger or older teens as there is no sex, language or violence to be concerned about. It's thought provoking about how much emphasis we put on looking good. Sure it has a message but it doesn't bog the story down. 

Uglies is beautiful entertainment!     

Cover: It's's colorful? I don't know, I'm not crazy about it. It doesn't really give me a clue as to what the book is about.

First Line(s): The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit.

So...probably not the most appealing, but its got some definite shock value. You almost do a double take. It grabs you, just...not in a good way.


Tales of Whimsy said...

Awesome review. I've been considering this one.

Blodeuedd said...

I enjoyed this book, mostly cos of the world he had created, and a world i understand, could happen

Bethany said...

That book was good :)

Helen's Book Blog said...

I really liked this book when I read it too! I also liked Pretties, but was getting a bit tired of the series by Specials. I haven't read Extras yet, but I plan to.

Ella Preuss said...

Loved this book!
Can't wait to read the rest.
Great review ;)

Golden Eagle said...

I hated this book. I thought Tally was slow to catch on to things and that she makes many, many bad decisions in the later books.

emily said...

This book sounds awesome! I'm one of those people who haven't read the series yet. Um..that first sentence isn't really appealing:]

Emidy @ Une Parole said...

I own the whole series and remember reading it a while back. I loved it! I think I need to pick up Uglies and read it a second time. Thanks for a great review!

The Critic said...

I do agree about the first sentence. Kind of shocking...
But anyway, I loved this book, even though I hated the first dozen pages or so, then O started to like it. Awesome review!

Tasha said...

Great review! Glad you enjoyed it. It's one of my favourite books.

brizmus said...

Great review, Jake! I also liked how he developed on things that I love about our society and paired them with extremes of things I don't so much love about our society.
I hope you'll enjoy the others as much as this one.

aqtbenz said...

I loved this book! Great review.
I gave you an award:

Jemi Fraser said...

We were just talking about first lines in books yesterday in my classroom. I asked if anyone could quote one without looking - one of my girls quoted this one. We discussed why it was a line that would make an impact. These books are constantly being passed around my classroom. :)

xoxo said...

I tried to read the Uglies but that thing was so boring I fell asleep, seriously.

Bunny B said...

Glad you enjoyed it. I did too! :) I love how you uploaded a pic of jessica abla (?) in there. LOL

Ladytink_534 said...

I really like this first one but I never got around to reading the other books even though I got them for Christmas!

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