Saturday, July 23, 2011

YA Review: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

by Scott Westerfeld
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

You know how there's those books that everyone LOVES, and you feel as though you most certainly have to try them out and take part in the collective euphoria?  Your heart palpitates when you are finally able to check it out from your local library, and you get goosebumps as you start the first chapter...then somewhere during the fourth or fifth, you realize that you aren't having nearly as much fun as everyone else claimed to have had?
This was my experience with Uglies.

I really wanted to jump all over this book.  According to every must-read YA list, Scott Westerfeld's Ugly series was one to leave you chomping at the bit for more.  While I do agree that the storyline is captivating and extremely frightening, I have to admit that I'm not exactly salivating to complete the series. But that being said, it was worth the read.

Uglies takes place some time in the future, after our current generations, referred to as Rusties by our descendants, are extinct.  The powers that be of the future have decided that most of our societal ills are a result of our differences. To avoid having their civilization meet the same hate-filled fate as ours, they decide that all people at age 16 must undergo mandatory plastic surgery and become Pretty by modifying skin tones, facial and body features, even hair. With everyone looking the same, and life becoming a party, who has time to start wars and conflicts?

Tally Youngblood is almost 16.  Her best friends have all had birthdays before her, so they've all been turned Pretty and moved to New Pretty Town.  Tally is biding her time until her surgery so that she can be reunited.  As she's slumming around Uglyville, pulling pranks and avoiding the police, she meets Shay, another 15 year old who, unlike Tally, is actually trying to find ways to avoid having the surgery.

Shay tells Tally about a secret town called The Smoke, where refugees from the Ugly cities go to live. They are Uglies who never became Pretty, and they are learning more and more about how life used to be before the mandatory surgeries.  Tally is horrified.

As Shay and Tally grow closer together, Shay finally builds up the courage to ask Tally if she'd be interested in running away with her.  Fleeing the city before the surgery and raging against the system.  Tally turns her down. The morning of her sweet 16 is not so sweet however, because instead of having her surgery, Tally learns that the office of Special Circumstances, aka The Specials are refusing to turn her Pretty unless Tally gives up her friend Shay and the refugees in The Smoke.

Deciding what to do about turning Shay in, with her surgery on the line, seems like a no-brainer to Tally, and as I was reading it took me a minute to get into her mind.  If I had always viewed myself as so ugly that all I had to live for was this surgery, I can totally see how devastating it may be for someone to be threatening not to let me have it.  Even when friendship is on the line.

The premise for this story is amazing.  All of society believing that our natural selves is hideous and something that must be altered.  A world where all the environmental and societal problems have been solved but the basic idea of self-love and respect for the natural human condition still remains.  Crazy.
And somehow believable, which is what makes all dystopias so chilling.

If anything, what frustrated me about the book was the overuse of the different categories of people.  As with most futuristic books, or stories about new societies, the author makes up a lot of slang and jargon to make it authentic.  I've seen it done much worse than this, but sometimes all the classifications of Ugly/Pretty/Special, yadda yadda got to be annoying.

The adventure is great to follow, and the very realistic future is terrifying.

View all my reviews


2 people wrote some stuff:

Charlotte said...

I tried this once myself....and put it down...and never picked it up again. But someday I will try again--I can't help but feel that maybe it was just my mood or something, and that next time I'll see how wonderful it is! Or maybe not.

Mrs.Tiye said...

Hi, Charlotte! Thanks for coming by.

I've just started Pretties, and so far it is much more captivating for me. I think it is probably those first few chapters of Uglies that start out a little too slow. Give it another try, or maybe check it out on audio, that might jumpstart it.
I hope! LOL

Post a Comment