Diana Reviews : Scott Westerfeld's - "Specials"

There will be spoilers for the previous two books in this review, so if you haven’t read them yet, do it. They’re amazing and two highly recommended reads.

Time for the final choice…

Specials is the third and final instalment of Tally’s story. It starts with Tally, now a Special, searching for members of the New Smoke in an Uglies party. With her are her new clique of Specials, the Cutters. They were founded by Shay, who devised a ritual of cutting in order to sharpen their senses and make things icier. Bubbly is no longer enough.

Tally and her clique go after a girl who had been smuggling healing pills into the city. The girl, however, escapes with David’s help and the Cutters are ambushed by a group of Smokies who possess modern technology. Tally manages to save Shay, but the Smokies manage to take Fausto, another Cutter. That’s when Shay and Tally make up a plan to find the New Smoke, a plan that involves Tally’s still-burning flame, Zane.

Tally’s brainwashing is sublime. You can feel it, taste it even and it’s repulsive – even more so because you know she’s wrong and you can’t do anything against it. She is disgusted by Zane, someone she loves, and she can’t do anything about it. It’s revolting that they took something like that away from her. More than anything, Tally wants Zane to become Special so that she no longer feels sickened by him and that’s her motivation through most of the book: make Zane special.

Tally and Zane’s relationship reaches a new level of complexity in in this final installment and it’s absolutely delicious. The aforementioned disgust, coupled with the remnants of her feelings for Zane makes for a thrilling, complex chemistry. It makes you even angrier about what they’ve done to Tally because, while he clearly loves Zane and wants to be with him, her Special brain doesn’t let her do it.

Tally’s actions, her brainwashing, have consequences and, unlike in many other books, she pays a dear price. The plot twist regarding Zane at the end left me sad and speechless and thoroughly amazed at the same time. Not many writers have the guts to do what Scott Westerfeld did there and I commend him for that. And it wasn’t just the idea in itself that made that plot twist so great: it’s the way it was executed. It really was heart-wrenching and heart-breaking and yet another reason to hate Tally’s city regime and Dr. Cable.

His prose is, as always, flawless. The way Tally sees the world in Specials is completely different, but it’s so well done you can nearly taste it. The world is sharper, more detailed, not because Scott Westerfeld’s writing changed but because Tally did. The books change along with Tally in perfect symbiosis.

Like Pretties, Specials never stops being interesting. It’s action followed by more action, dilemmas followed by dilemmas, choices after choices. It’s amazing how Scott Westerfeld can make a book that never stops thrilling you.

A brilliant conclusion to Tally’s story, Specials is a nearly-flawless piece of literature. Much like Tally, it never stops, never rests and never ceases its surprises. The Uglies series is astounding and should be in everyone’s shelves.

Paperback: 400 pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s (4 Mar 2010)

Language English

ISBN-10: 1847389082

ISBN-13: 978-1847389084

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