Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

Pretties, as you’ve probably guessed by now, is the sequel and second book in the Uglies series. Having been returned to the city at the end of Uglies, both Tally and Shay have undergone the operation to make them pretty (I promise this isn’t a spoiler alert, it’s decided on at the end of the first book). However, since Tally has been told that the operation to make her physically pretty will also make her mentally “pretty” (think vapid, shallow, and easily distracted all in the name of peace), she ends up recieving her cure from the Smoke. However, she has also fallen in love with fellow pretty Zane (WHAT KIND OF NAME IS THAT FOR SERIOUS?!?!?!) and decides they both need to be cured together. Other plot points include numerous tricks and stunts that get them both in trouble, and an eventual attempted escape to the New Smoke – the Smoke in the first book was found and destroyed. If it sounds like I’m skipping over important details….it’s because they really weren’t all that important. The vital plot aspects happen in the first 1/4 and the last 1/4 of the book. Everything else is just fun filler.

That’s the biggest thing I’ve taken away from this series so far (and I’ve yet to continue, despite the fact that I’ve got all four books, mostly because I just can’t keep my interest) is that the books are entertaining if not deep. I felt that this book did a much better job of establishing a relationship between Tally and Zane, most likely due to the fact that the two already know each other at the beginning, rather than having to wait to meet until about the half way mark. And, also like the first one, I found myself dreading the not-exactly-subtle messages about environmentalism. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a huge environmentalist (see my review of JSF”s Eating Animals later this week) but I think kids need to be given more credit than they are for being able to understand and pick up on more difficult thematic elements, like trying to spread a message without being proselytized to.

All in all, I’d say that the second book here is just about as good as the first. Which might be an accomplishment, if the first book had been better. This one felt quite a bit like filler for the third novel, which normally I wouldn’t be upset with, as I understand it has to happen that way. However, the problem lies in the fact that the filler isn’t interesting enough to push the momentum towards the third novel. It falls flat, but kept a smile on my face none-the-less

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