Author: Scott Westerfeld
Series: Uglies Trilogy #01
Release Date: 2005
Publisher: Scholastic Trade
Source: personal copy
Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that? 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 has been sitting on my shelf for a long time, and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. Tally’s world is physically the same as ours (as in, Earth), but time and an apocalypse (an oil-destroying bacteria) have changed things. Much of the world is uninhabited, and most of those that remain live in segregated cities such as Tally’s. On one side of the river are the young, the Uglies. On the other side, the Pretties.
It was decided, post-apocalypse, that all of the world’s problems were caused by inequality. Not only financial or social, but physical. So, upon their sixteenth birthday, everyone is given plastic surgery to become Pretty. They then spend the rest of their young-adulthood going to parties, basically.
Tally is about to become Pretty, and never thought about doing otherwise before she runs into Shay. Shay doesn’t want to become Pretty. She’s learned of a settlement of people living outside of the city (the Smokes), and she’d rather be a part of that society than the one she’s expected to join. She asks Tally to come with her, but Tally is unsure, until the decision is made for her.
I thought the book had some interesting things to say about conformity and oppressive monitoring by the government. For a heroine, Tally does tend to be rather passive. Most of what happens to her is a result of what other people have either done or made her do, and I have to admit I didn’t love her. But, the story itself is compelling enough that I don’t have to love her to want to see what happens to her.
Overall, it was just an enjoyable story. Westerfeld has created an interesting world, and I’ll definitely be reading more to see what he does with it.
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | WorldCat
- “My copies of all the Uglies books are completely falling apart from me reading them so much, and I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did.” — Zoe’s Book Reviews
- “All in all, I loved the premise, didn’t love the voice, but thought it’s worth reading if you have the chance.” —
- “If the rest of the series is as awesome as the first book, I will be thrilled. “ — Read. Breathe. Relax.