Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
(Source: I own a copy of this book.)
15-year-old Tally lives in a dystopian society, where between the ages of 12 and 16 you are labelled ‘ugly’ and forced to live together in an ugly town. On your sixteenth birthday you are taken to the city where you have cosmetic surgery to become ‘pretty’ – your eyes become perfect, you become the perfect height, you get new shiny skin etc.
Tally can’t wait to be pretty, but being one of the youngest in her school year most of her friends have already gone off to become pretty, and Tally is feeling lonely. Because of this she makes friends with a girl called Shay, who tells Tally that she is leaving to join a group of rebels in a place called ‘The Smoke’. Rebels who don’t want to be pretty!
Tally is pretty horrified by this and refuses to go with her. She can’t understand why anyone would want to be ugly forever.
Unfortunately though, Shay’s absence is noted, and a group of prettys known as the ‘specials’ tell Tally that unless she leads them to Shay and the other rebels, she will never be made pretty.
Realising that she has little choice unless she wants to be ugly forever, Tally begins the journey to find Shay and the other rebels. The problem is; will she still feel the same way about being pretty when she gets there? Can she really betray her friend and the community that she is now living with? Is being pretty really all it’s cracked up to be?
I enjoyed this book. The dystopian feel was similar to that in ‘The Hunger Games’, with teenagers seemingly being singled out for humiliation, and there were plenty of references to the way we live now and how wasteful it is – burning trees and oil etc. (Bit of a green/ recycling theme in this book). As well as the obvious references to the way beauty is viewed in society, although I do hasten to add that the idea that people who are pretty are stupid is also a bit of a stereotype!
I liked Tally, and I totally got how she felt about the whole ‘pretty’ issue, even when Shay was so against it. Having been told all her life that normal was ugly, and waiting for years for the pretty operation – especially when her friends had already had it done, I could totally see why she would want it done. I knew that if she was a good person she would never really be able to turn traitor on her friends though, no matter what the cost.
I think my favourite part was early on when Shay introduced Tally to an old roller-coaster, which they rode on using their hover boards, which while fun actually had a tinge of sadness to it. I also loved all the new-age toys that the kids had – hover boards, bungee jackets, sun screen patches (very handy), and things that turned to dust when you had finished with them – so no waste!
Overall; this book carried plenty of messages about the wasteful nature of our society, and the importance of being green, as well as the messages about self-worth and vanity, all disguised in an interesting YA dystopian idea.
7.5 out of 10.
(Book length: 3346 kindle locations)
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