Uglies by Scott Westerfield
Science Fiction , 425 pages
Published 2005 by Simon Pulse
Uglies is a thrilling novel set 3000 years into the future, and when a teenager hits the age of 16 they have a mega-operation to make them stunningly gorgeous. From then on they are known as "A Pretty", whilst those who are yet to have the operation-normal teenagers-are called "Uglies".
Tally Youngblood can not wait to turn Pretty, however, her new friend Shay has doubts. A few days before her sixteenth birthday, Shay runs away from civilization, desperate to keep her "ugly" looks, and find a group of people known as "The Smokies" who share her thoughts, and live a normal, surgery free life.
However, chaos begins when Tally is presented with an option: Find Shay and the Smokies, and bring them back, or never turn Pretty at all, and Tally's life is changed forever...
I was very impressed with this book. As far as Dystopians go, this is the best I have ever read. Granted, the story is not as great as that of The Hunger Games or Chaos Walking, but the post-apocalypse aspect is better. I was content with the amount of detail we were given about the end of the world. How it happened, when it happened, what survived, what was learnt by our mistakes, what has happened to other nations and what the future looks like.
I loved Westerfield's image of the future. The way he describes Uglyville and New Prettytown is wonderful-I could imagine both perfectly and clearly. I loved the hover-boarding. It seems like Westerfield has actually invented a hover board, with all the creativity he uses when writing about them. He explains how they are used, what they look like, where and why you can use them.
From all the Dystopian novels that I have read, this is by far my favorite explanation of the future.
The plot was sensational as well. There was not a dull part, from the very first paragraph ( a beautiful description of a red sunset) the book kept me on glued to the page. Wether I was curious about New Prettytown and the far-off future, trying to figure out Shay's mysterious clues with Tally, hooked on the romantic aspect with David, or on the edge of my seat as the gripping, thrilling and intense climax took place. I finished this book in less then 24 hours, starting Monday morning, finishing 2AM Wednesday morning. In between I had braces put on and un-willingly went shopping with friends.
It was amazing.
There is also a very good message behind this entertaining story. There are constant references to the environment, talking about how 'Rusties'-us, the people of today-were so stupid and silly as to ruin nature. In 3000 years, people are in disbelief about how selfish we are, and struggle to believe that we could kill trees and animals. Eventually, this almost kills the world and ourselves.
Uglies also gives the reader much food for thought.
-Is it worth forcing a friend to change their values and opinions, if it means fulfilling my lifes dream?
-Is it worth becoming amazingly gorgeous and fitting in, if it means sacrificing something important to me?
-We believe the reality of what we are presented with, and refuse to think otherwise.
-If we are told, 'unless you look a certain way, you are ugly'. Must we believe it?
I really, really enjoyed this novel.
It was entertaining, thrilling, and the concept is amazing.
The only flaw I could find, is with the characters. None of them stand out, and none of them interest me greatly. I am hoping to find out more about the characters in the sequel, Pretties.
The ending was wonderful, and the cliffhanger is a perfect balance of: I really, really need to read what happens next, with out being overly annoying and frustrating (cough: Catching Fire cough).
Westerfield writing style is great. It is easy, quick and fun to read. He can write very good dialogue, make subtle-yet hilarious-jokes, and write great action scenes.
There is a movie release scheduled for 2011, and as far as I know there is no director or cast, as of yet. So tell me, who would you cast into the lead roles for the movie? Personally, every single character must be un-knowns, except for maybe Dr. Cable, who I can totally see as Cate Blanchette:
All in all, I would definitely recommend this book to boys and girls ages 13 and up. It is a quick, entertaining and thought provoking read.