Category: Science Fiction


Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
978-1-4169-3450-9
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.

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE: http://scottwesterfeld.com/

READING LEVEL 12+

CHALLENGE ISSUES: N/A

DEFENSE: N/A

CURRICULUM TIES: N/A

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.

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
ISBN: 1400052920
Harmony Books, New York, 1980
215 p.

GENRE: Science Fiction

TEASER: This is a journey through space that you will never forget.

SUMMARY: The story begins with Arthur Dent lying in front of a bulldozer that is going to rip down his house in order to build a new bypass. His friend Ford perfect comes along and convinces him to leave foe a bit. He also tricks the foreman into lying in front of Arthur’s house for him while he’s gone. Ford then tries to explain to Arthur that he is really an alien from the an area called Betelgeuse. He tells Arthur that they need to find a way off Earth because it will ironically soon be demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass. They steal away on a Vogon ship but are later caught. They are then tortured with reading of Vogon poetry, the third worst in the entire Universe. After they are ejected into space, they are picked up by the Heart of Gold. The ship’s other passengers are Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ford’s semi-cousin, Malvin, a chronically depressed robot, and Trillian, a mathematician and astrophysicist. They are in search of the legendary planet of Magrathea. But once they get there, they encounter more problems. Now Arthur is separated from the rest and must escape from mice that want to cut open his head. how will Arthur get out of this one?

CRITIQUE: The story is told in third person perspective, switching between Arthur and Ford’s characters. It’s easy to see why Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is considered a classic in its genre. In a time when many author’s were writing space operas, Douglas chose to do a parody of sci-fi adventure stories. His characters are unique and well though out. He is famous for his witty prose. many agree that this book exemplified his writing prowess. The world is intelligently written and though provoking. You are sure to get a laugh out of Douglas Adam’s classic tale of adventure and insanity.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Douglas Adams was an English author and dramatist. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is most well-known work. Some of his other titles were Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, The Private Life of Genghis Khan, and many other novels and short stories. He was an advocate of environmental conservation. Douglas died of a heart attack at the age of 49 on May 2001. After his death, author Richard Dawkins said, “science has lost a friend, literature has lost a luminary, the mountain gorilla and the black rhino have lost a gallant defender.”

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE: N/A

READING LEVEL General Adult

CHALLENGE ISSUES: Some people may abject to the sexual situations in this novel and heavy drinking.

DEFENSE: I would suggest looking at the ALA’s support page for challenged materials.

CURRICULUM TIES: N/A

BOOKTALKING IDEAS: There are many highly improbable scenes in this book. Which one was the hardest for you to accept?

WHY INCLUDED: I have always wanted to read this book and I kept coming across the title while looking for books for teen boys.