Publication Date: February 8th 2005
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing
Age Group: Young Adult
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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.I've really gotten into dystopian literature in the last year or so, and while I've been searching for more, I kept hearing about Westerfield's Uglies trilogy. Having read his novel So Yesterday a few years back, I decided to give it a try.
What I Liked: There is a real simplicity to the world of Uglies - from their view of us as all consuming, angry, prejudice Rusty monsters, to the stages of their lives. Littlies are sent to the forms at age twelve, and spend four years as Uglies, desperately awaiting the body altering surgery that will make them Pretty. As a Pretty it is their job to enjoy themselves until they become Middling Pretties and finally undergo surgery to become Old Pretties.
Even the cause of the Rusty demise is reasonably simple, through science we caused our own downfall. Of course, there is an undercurrent to the story concealed by the Specials and how they hide the truth behind becoming Pretty.
Westerfield's world building in Uglies shows he has ha deeper understanding of the superficial nature of mankind, as well as an understanding of our desire to make everything better - from the white orchid to our genetic make up and appearance.
I enjoyed exploring the ruins of the Rusty cities with Tally and found her determination to be Pretty intriguing. Her desire is understandable, her friends and family are all Pretties, and she lives in a world where becoming Pretty is a critical life experience and Pretties are created to look hypnotically perfect.
Tally had no experience of life outside of being Pretty but is open minded enough to acknowledge its benefits once she has spent time in Smoke.
What I Didn't Like: I found, at times, that I couldn't keep myself involved in the story. I didn't like the characters enough to stay interested, and didn't feel happy or sad with Tally, Shay or David. I had to force myself to persevere through some of the slower parts of the novel.
Uglies is the first in a trilogy, and despite some of my trouble, I look forward to Pretties. It's hard not to with such a strong ending:
"My name is Tally Youngblood. Make me Pretty."