Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: May 3, 2011
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.
While recovering from a recent illness now known as HGW (Hunger Games Withdrawal), I was desperately seeking a new book. All I wanted was something well written, contained some possible government rebellion, a dash of futuristic society without being tacky, and little romance. My number one deciding factory – it could not contain a single trace of vampires (see previous TVRI - Teen Vampire Romance Infection). Luckily after trolling a few blogs I found a link to Scott Westerfeld and his four book series called ‘The Uglies’.
Uglies was everything I was looking for. Despite the main character being sixteen, it was a massive relief to find the writer hadn’t felt the need to dumb down the language and over dramatize everything in order to capture the interest of the books target market. In much the same way JK Rowling writes, the book is easy to read without being patronizing. I truly believe that regardless of your age, you can read Uglies and enjoy a well-told story.
The character Tally captured my imagination instantly by challenging the idea of what I consider ‘perfect beauty’ and what the cost of a strict government designed city amounts to. On the surface “Pretty Town” is idyllic and I found myself longing to live in such a futuristic city (toothpaste pills so you don’t even have to brush your teeth anymore?!?! Calorie Eliminator Pills?!?! My inner fat girl says bring it on!), however as the book continues it’s shallow decent you begin to realise that the soft pretty bubble around Pretty Town is actually a prison designed to keep the rest of the world out!
There are all sorts of moral challenges in this book. From loyalty, to obsession for perfection, to some major environmental factors, and yes, even a love triangle – there are all sorts of juicy titbits to keep you guessing how the story might unfold.
With hints of our current time demise in their history books, I devoured this book in two days and was already downloading the following three books without a moment’s hesitation. If you’ve been looking for something to capture your attention, without the heavy feel science fiction can sometimes bring, or perhaps you too have suffered HGW, than this book is for you!
Scott Westerfeld is a New York Times bestselling American-born author of YA sci-fi literature. He was born in the Texas and now lives in Sydney and New York City. In 2001, Westerfeld married fellow author Justine Larbalestier.
His book Evolution's Darling was a New York Times Notable Book, and won a Special Citation for the 2000 Philip K. Dick Award. So Yesterday won a Victorian Premier's Award and Midnighters 1: The Secret Hour won an Aurealis Award. Peeps and Uglies were both named as Best Books for Young Adults 2006 by the American Library Association.