Uglies by Scott Westerfeld is the first in the Uglies series about two girls, Tally and Shay, who live in world where everyone is ugly until they turn 16. At sixteen, these girls and all their friends undergo an operation in which everything about them is transformed to fit the “standard” of beauty – symmetrical faces, large pupils, white teeth and smooth skin, all the “biological” markers of beauty. For the most part, everyone is happy to undergo this transformation – who would want to be “ugly” when being “beautiful” is as much a part of the aging process as the Bar Mitzvah. However, there are some who disagree – like Shay. For those who realize that perhaps there is a flaw in this “make peace by making everyone the same – and beautiful to boot”, there is a place that exists in both legend and, to the few in the know, reality. This place is nicknamed “the Smoke” because these are the people who choose to live like the “Rusties”, the name for all those who lived before the implementation of the operation. In other words, we’re the “Rusties” and the book makes a number of comments about the nature of beauty, peace, complacency, and the danger of not being aware of environmental dangers.
The book is an easy read. It’s very much so like Lowis Lowery’s The Giver or perhaps even The Hunger Games (although I cannot tell a lie – The Hunger Games was WAY, WAY better). There were a number of flaws that kept the book from being a favorite read, but it kept me more than entertained and led to a number of sneak-peaks during work while I was supposed to be…well…working. The flaws include things like the fact that the book was paced rather too quickly – within the first few chapters we have a main character rebelling against the system and trying to get others to join her, before the truly scary nature of the operation can be understood by the reader. Secondly, the plot twist that caused the downfall of the Rusties (which won’t be revealed here, for all future readers) seemed contrived and, perhaps most annoyingly – WE WEREN’T GIVEN NEARLY ENOUGH TIME TO FALL IN LOVE WITH THE LOVE-WORTHY MALE PROTAGONIST!!!!! I hate it when this happens!
To be honest, that last point is most likely because Tally, the main narrator, doesn’t realize she’s in love with David (leader of the Smoke, a nature-loving, handmade clothes wearing rebel extraordinaire) until almost the very end. But as a reader, I was in love with him from the beginning and just wanted more from him! The end of the book leaves the reader – and Tally – hanging in a way that is at once tense and yet predictable. There really is no “what happens next” cliffhanger. Rather, it’s a “this is whats going to happen, but what will happen after that” style story, which was built up just enough that I went ahead and read the second one anyway! All in all, I’d say the book was good and might be even better for those of you in more of a YA read – it’s entertaining, if nothing else!
In a more general life update, summer reading is going well, but not as well as it could. Does it ever? My niece has been staying with us for pretty much the whole month of June, and it’s meant a lot more Barbie playing and Spongebob watching than it has reading and reviewing, but as always I’m staying caught up with the Google Reader and waiting for the days when fitting in reading/reviewing is back on the regular agenda. Happy reading!