by Scott Westerfeld
reviewed by Julia Swart
Scott Westerfield drew me in from the very beginning, simply by titling his book Uglies. The concise yet intriguing title immediately urged me to read on, and I couldn’t be happier that I did. The fictional novel uses hidden satire throughout to portray our society, and to define what being pretty is all about.
The book begins in a fictional world where growing up revolves around getting an operation done on the day of your sixteenth birthday that changes you from an “Ugly” to a “Pretty.” Feisty and rebellious Tally Youngblood can hardly wait to join her friends, specifically her friend Peris, and be welcomed into the carefree land of “New Pretty Town.” But shortly after committing another one of her famous pranks she meets a new friend: Shay. Shay and Tally instantly hit it off and seem to have everything in common, except for one thing: Shay isn’t so set on becoming pretty. Shay doesn’t see what so important about looks and shares with Tally her hopes to run away to a secret camp called “The Smoke,” where Uglies and some Pretties have escaped in order to forgo the empty and meaningless life in a world where your only job is being “Pretty.”
When Shay carries out her plans and escapes to The Smoke, Tally is persuaded into following her and turning her into the authorities, also known as “Special Circumstances,” whom have been trying to find The Smoke for years. But once Tally arrives there, her eyes are opened to what “being pretty” really entitles, and how the pretty world isn’t very pretty at all. Tally is faced with the ultimate decision that could harm herself, but also potentially save what’s left of Shay, leaving me anxious to know what would come next.
The book is part of a series, so naturally it leaves you on a cliffhanger, but I was without a doubt eager to jump from one book to the next. Uglies is the perfect book for any teenager, tying in romance with humor and suspense. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an easy read that will move quickly, it is definitely a page-turner, and that will reveal hidden truths about what is real beauty.