Is it not good to make society full of beautiful people? – Yang Yuan, quoted in The New York Times
About the Book
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 on my radar for a while, almost since I started book blogging, but something has always held me back from reading the series, even when I discovered what a great writer Westerfeld is, I still wasn’t tempted. I think it’s because I had visions of a preachy “you don’t need to be beautiful…” kinda book. One of those horrible young adult novels I remember from school.
But when he posted about a free download of the ebook of Uglies to celebrate the launch of his next series, I just knew I had to give it a try.
I really should have known better, Westerfeld is not that sort of writer, Uglies, is set in a a great science fiction world, with brilliant characters and exciting action sequences, and much deeper philosophy, than you’d think going in.
Set an undisclosed amount of time in the future, the Uglies world is both recognisable and very strange, and with a level of control and spying on its inhabitants that would do any big brother government proud. Even so, Tally gets to play with some fantastic ‘toys’!
“Of course, a hoverboard. What is it about those things and miscreants?” -Dr. Cable, Uglies
I should talk about the ‘Pretty’ speak that Tally and her friends either use or aspire to, it’s perfectly realised, so much so, in fact that it is damn annoying at times (it is meant to be), and I suspect my less than perfect tolerance for it, has more to do with my age than anything else
I’ll be honest, while I really enjoyed the book, I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as The Midnighters or Peeps. Even so I still called in at my library to grab the rest of the series, before, I was even half-way through this one. A good job too, considering the cliff-hanger ending!
I’m already on the last book of the series, so keep your eyes open for a review of Pretties, the second book in the series over the next few days.
Before I sign off, I must give special mention to the opening line, one of the best I’ve come across this year!
The early summer sky was the colour of cat vomit.