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Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Three and a half stars out of five


I’ve never considered myself to be very fond of reading semi-long books for entertainment, although I have however made an exception for the book Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. I would like to begin by saying that this book will probably appeal toward females more so than it will to males, nevertheless, being male I still feel that it is a very well written and enjoyable book to read that I would recommend to you. Uglies is a sci-fi adventure type book with a little bit of romance and comedy sprinkled in. A lot of the true meaning behind the story is clouded in mystery for much of the book until its true intentions spring out to you later on. Most of the book is fluent to read, however there were some scenes that felt a bit slow to get over. Uglies is the type of book that you will catch yourself pondering, whether it’s what you would do in a certain situation or where your general philosophy on the scenario falls.

Scott Westerfeld, the author of not only the Uglies series but also other books such as The Killing of Worlds, The Risen Empire, So Yesterday and more, is a forty year old Texas born writer who can be found living in both New York City and overseas in Sydney Australia. Between the various awards he has won for his writing such as the Victorian Premier's Award, Aurealis Award and numerous others, after writing Uglies he was bestowed the Best Books for Young Adults award in 2006.

Uglies is the first of a five book series of science fiction novels that takes place hundreds of years in the future where modern civilization and everything before is seen as little more than a stain in history compared to the advanced level of technology that is casually used in everyday life in their time. In this world, there is a tradition that states once you reach the age of sixteen, you are required to get an operation that makes you appear flawless, even beautiful as a result. The correct terminology is it makes you become a “Pretty,” in comparison to the Pretties, all pre-operation people are known as “Uglies” (with the exception of some small children). Once you have the operation you are allowed to live in a place called New Pretty Town where your only obligation is to have fun with friends and party with beautiful people all day and night while the Uglies watch with envy and spend all their life being seen as hideous pigs. Most Uglies want nothing more than to live among the Pretties in a world of fun and games for the rest of their lives.

Our story begins with our main character Tally Youngblood, a very clever, unique and sly fifteen year old girl who sneaks into New Pretty Town, as Uglies often do, eager to find her newly pretty, childhood friend Peris. Needless to say things don’t go as smoothly as planned as evident by not only crashing the huge party that Peris was attending but also almost getting caught in the process. After a sequence of unlikely events, Tally ends out meeting another ugly girl who also snuck into New Pretty Town named Shay, who she meets hiding in the bushes so the authorities don’t find her sneaking about. Shay is a lot like Tally in many ways, be it their rebellious nature or sharing of birthdays, this similarity between the two of them makes them become best friends at first sight. On their first night knowing each other, Shay teachers Tally how to ride a hover bored and Tally helps Shay sneak out of town undetected, working together they are able to get home to Ugly town unscathed.

Because they share the same birthday, Tally is happy that she’ll no longer be left alone, ugly and miserable again as long as Shay is with her, though sadly things start to go downhill from here. Whenever the topic of becoming pretty is brought up, Shay seems to be very uninterested, more so she appears to be opposed to it. Tally never thinks much of it all, being clouded by her excitement, but it only hits her when Shay says that she’s going to run away days before her sixteenth birthday and live in a secret location called “The Smoke”. As if losing two of your best friends in only a few short months wasn’t enough, things go from bad to worse once Tally is greeted by a secret peace keeping group known as “Special Circumstances” who expect Tally to do the unthinkable, and our story is only beginning.

One of the things that I personally enjoy about Uglies is the mindset that the characters are in at the time. They refer to our modern era people as “The Rusties” and everything that we see as normal, such as driving cars and making buildings with an iron frame simply amazes them. It’s almost comical how little they think of us compared to them with their hover cars and had held water purifiers, they really make us seem savage and inhumane, which is perhaps a statement the author is trying to make. It’s upsetting to see how little the Uglies think of themselves, it’s an accepted fact that they aren’t as human until they become pretty, which we know is ridiculous but this is so accepted in their world that it changes the definition of normal. The themes are very easy to determine in this book, heck you could probably read the front cover and pick out a few themes without even reading the book, though Scott Westerfeld makes up for this by repeatedly touching base upon the subject of human beauty throughout the story.

After reading the story, I find Uglies to be a very intelligent and philosophically testing story of great entertainment and interest. Sure there are some predictable events and things may be rather slow at times but either way, it is defiantly a book worth reading. If a futuristic tech universe or governmental conspiracy interests you, then perhaps this is the book for you!!



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