“What you do, what you think, makes you beautiful.”
- from Uglies
Contrary to the ordering of these here bookcovers, Uglies is the first and Pretties is the second book of the Uglies Trilogy (which actually has 4 books in it). The series is about Tally Youngblood, a teenager who lives in futuristic society where everyone must have an operation at age 16 to turn them from an “ugly” into a “pretty”. Uglies just look normal (like you and me!) while the pretties are genetically superior in almost every way. They have perfectly symmetrical faces and are not too fat or too skinny. They go to parties every night and have everything at their fingertips while the uglies watch and pine for the day they can turn 16 and have the surge too.
The first book, Uglies, begins a couple of weeks before Tally’s sixteenth birthday. She is one of the last of the uglies in her class left because her birthday is so late in the year. Tally is not handling the loneliness well after her best friend Peris had the surgery and left her for all the fun in New Pretty Town. Tally is eventually introduced to Shally, another late bloomer who teaches Tally about a world beyond the city, a world where you aren’t forced to turn pretty and you can live your life the way you want it, without big brother watching your every move. This news turns Tally’s world upside down, and on the eve of her transformation, Tally’s world will change forever.
I hope I’m doing Westerfeld justice! I loved these stories. They were a great escape and had tons of action. It also has a great message of thinking for yourself. Above all, trust your own judgment. I have seen some complaints about all the slang used (found a lot more in the second book), but honestly, it’s just to transport you into the world that Westerfeld has created. I really liked these. I finished Uglies last Saturday and tried to wait until I got home for spring break (only a few more days!) to read Pretties, but I couldn’t wait that long. I don’t want to give too much away because figuring this book out is half the fun. While I wouldn’t say it’s totally unpredictable, there were definitely a couple of things that I wasn’t expecting.
Another thing I think these books address well are consequences. The main character is flawed and has to pay for her mistakes. Sometimes even more than she deserves. The characters are interesting, believable and dynamic. The writing could be condensed in some ways (it drags on here and there), but nothing that took away from the book overall. I would recommend this to 12 and up. It’s a speedy, enjoyable read!