Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, New York, 2006
Format: PDF file
448 p.

GENRE: Science Fiction

TEASER: All Tally ever wanted was to be one of the privileged pretties. But is the cost of being perfect too high?

SUMMARY: Tally Youngblood is an ugly. As an ugly she is forced to live in a with all of the other uglies in Uglyville. But soon she will turn sixteen and become a pretty, the privileged upper-class that live in leisure. Before she becomes a pretty, she meets Shay who is scheduled to become a pretty on the same day as Tally. Only Shay doesn’t want to be a pretty. Shay is in league with rebels who are against the conformity of the pretty society. Shay invites Tally to come with her and join them. She refuses but promises not to reveal the location of the rebels. But something happens on the day that Tally is scheduled to become a pretty. Special Circumstances, the secret law enforcers, tell her she cannot become a pretty unless she gives away Shay and the other rebels location. Now they are forcing her to lead the way to the rebel’s hideout. Suddenly Tally’s not so sure she wants to be a pretty anymore. She soon learns the horrible cost of becoming a pretty. But can she stop the Special Circumstances for discovering their hideout, or is it too late?

CRITIQUE: This book was written in third person perspective, which seems to be not as common in young adult fiction as it is in adult fiction. Westerfeld did an excellent job at building the world for this story. I was reminded of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. The pretties are the alphas and everything is supposedly perfect for them. However, this over-engeneered society will be its own demise. We can’t prevent war and conflict by taking away everyone’s free will. It will never work. A rebellion is brewing and the pretties society may come falling down on them.

There are many important issues that Westerfeld addresses in this book, such as: body image, conformity, individuality, social class, and social class. I felt like Westerfeld is making a lot of statements about how our society judges people by appearance and how cosmetic surgery is becoming a norm. When people like Tally are raised to think that this is the right way to be, how can we expect her to feel any differently than she did when Shay asks her to join Smoke?

The book was well written and most certainly thought-provoking. The author gives you relatable characters, unique plot twists, and makes you think about our own society and the importance on body image at the same time. This is a definite page-tuner. I couldn’t put this book down. I can’t wait to read the rest of this series.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Scott Westerfeld is a science fiction author and ghost writer. He compares ghost writing to being able to “driving someone else’s car really, really fast for lots of money.” He was born in Texas and splits his time between New York City and Sydney, Australia. He is married to Australian author Justine Larbalestier. He is also the author of the Leviathan, Midnighters series, Polymorph, and So Yesterday.






BOOKTALKING IDEAS: Even though this book is written in a futuristic dystopian world, what do you think this book says about how we perceive beauty? Do you think we are headed in this direction?

WHY INCLUDED: I have wanted to read this book for a long time. I find the idea of a futuristic world where people are segregated by appearance fascinating.