Monday, December 12, 2011

Book Review: Uglies

Star Rating 5/5


By Scott Westerfeld

Ever since she moved into Uglyville, Tally Youngblood has gazed out her dorm window at New Pretty Town and dreamed of being there. Now she is just months away from her sixteenth birthday and then she will finally be living her dream. All she has to do is stay out of too much trouble and await the day of her operation—the day all Uglies have been taught from birth to wait for—the day she will become a Pretty herself.

The days pass slowly since her other friends have already changed, that is until she meets Shay, an Ugly with her same birthday. But Shay isn’t like Tally’s old friends. While Shay wants to escape Uglyville, she doesn’t want to go to New Pretty Town. She doesn’t want to be a Pretty at all. She wants to leave the city entirely and go to the Smoke—a place where everyone is ugly. Tally can’t imagine that such a place exists, but when Shay decides to run away Tally wonders what will become of her friend. Now Tally has to decide whether she is with Shay or not and whether she is willing to be ugly for life.

Scott Westerfeld creates a sickeningly realistic dystopia in his novel Uglies, resulting in a horrifyingly beautiful juxtaposition of our world and each of us. A criticism of more than Western society’s quest for beauty, Uglies (as a novel and as a trilogy) challenges the reader to question his impact on the environment, his power over his conditions, his acceptance of perceived authority and reality, and his desire to conform. These challenges are delivered largely through the protagonist, Tally, but also through the experiences of the other characters. Tally is more than a character pushed from scenario to scenario, unable to control her circumstances or direction. Throughout the novel (and the trilogy), she makes choices and changes herself in spite of the conditioning, dangers, and alterations she experiences. Like each of us, Tally attempts to discover what she wants and who she is in a world that is constantly trying to shape her to meet its own ends. Tally’s story will hook you from the start and keep you reading and wondering through the entire trilogy. My advice to you: grab all three books at once or you’ll be running to the library or bookstore, dying to get your hands on the next book!

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