Diana Reviews: Scott Westerfeld's - "Uglies"

In a world of extreme beauty, anyone normal is ugly.

The first book of a quartet written by Scott Westerfeld, Uglies stars a young girl named Tally Youngblood. She lives in a society where, at sixteen years old, everyone undergoes massive surgery to become Pretty. Pretties live the good life, never having to work, having fun all the time… and they look unconditionally beautiful.

Tally’s best friend Peris has already undergone the surgery and she can hardly wait to join him. She defies the rules by going into New Pretty town to see him and once she returns, she meets Shay, who, like Tally, is an Ugly. However, Shay doesn’t want to be Pretty. She wants to find the Smoke, a secret place where Uglies go. In the Smoke, no one has the surgery.

But Tally wants to be Pretty. She wants everything that being Pretty entails and so, when Shay leaves, she stays. And on the day of her sixteen birthday, she is faced with a choice: bring Shay back or be Ugly forever.

Uglies is an amazing, thought-provoking book. The plot is gripping and action-packed. There’s almost never a dull moment in the book. From Tally and Shay’s exploits, to Tally’s journey to the Smoke to what happens afterwards… Uglies keeps you interested throughout its entirety and that’s a great thing.

Tally’s character evolution is well-done and gradual. She struggles with her decisions and makes mistakes, as any other teenage would. She is a great character, and so are the ones that are gradually introduced as you progress into the book. The romance she develops later on is sweet and an important piece when it comes to her journey and what she has to do when she reaches the Smoke. It was not just that, though. Tally was used to finding only Pretties beautiful. The romance she develops is something that goes beyond looks and it’s quite endearing to see such a growth in her.

Another great thing about the book is that you’re rooting for Tally. You want her to make the right choices and you come to care about her. Her character, flawed as it is, does warm its way into your heart. I found the whole Pretty thing very disturbing. There was obviously some catch to it and I desperately wanted Tally to realize that.

When it comes to writing, Scott Westerfeld paints a rich picture of a post-apocalyptic world. Everything is clearly described and easy to imagine. Not to mention his vision is extremely interesting: cities are completely independent; no one eats meat or cuts down trees… It is thoroughly original and amazingly vivid.

Concept-wise, I thought Uglies was masterful. A society where anyone who is normal is considered ugly is just brilliant. The operation to be turned Pretty and the truth about it –  even more so. I was interested in this book ever since I read the summary, but it doesn’t just have a good concept: it’s also very well-executed.

To me, Uglies was a 1984 for younger people and I absolutely loved it. It ends in a cliffhanger and made me want to read its sequel as soon as I had the chance. It is that good.

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