Thursday, January 5, 2012

Review: Specials by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Specials (Uglies, #3)
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Published: May 2006 (Simon Pulse)
Rating: 3/5
Summary: "Special Circumstances": The words have sent chills down Tally's spine since her days as a repellent, rebellious ugly. Back then Specials were a sinister rumor — frighteningly beautiful, dangerously strong, breathtakingly fast. Ordinary pretties might live their whole lives without meeting a Special. But Tally's never been ordinary. And now she's been turned into one of them: a superamped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid. The strength, the speed, and the clarity and focus of her thinking feel better than anything Tally can remember. Most of the time. One tiny corner of her heart still remembers something more.

Still, it's easy to tune that out — until Tally's offered a chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat, or carry out the mission she's programmed to complete. Either way, Tally's world will never be the same.

My Review: *This review includes spoilers.*

I am...not sure what I thought of Specials. I had a very difficult time rating it. I almost abandoned the book and, thus, the series before I had read even 15 pages. Thankfully, I pushed past that part and realized that this one had an intriguing storyline and redeeming qualities. There were parts that I really liked, most definitely, but there were parts I wasn't crazy about. And the overall effect of the book was that while I was reading it, I was hooked. If I set it down for more than 10 seconds, I pretty much didn't care about picking it up again. I made myself because I knew I would enjoy it once I started, and I did (for the most part).  Now, onto the actual story.

First of all, the Cutters. There is no faster way to turn me off of a book, movie, anything, than to mention cutting. That has always been a subject that affects me deeply. The thought quite honestly makes me want to do two things: cry and throw up. Throw up because simply the concept of self-mutilation makes my stomach churn, and cry because it kills me to know that a person is in enough pain that he/she would turn to cutting him/herself as a solution. Therefore, I had a very difficult time with Specials, as the cutting was a big part of the story.

It was good to see Tally overcome that and everything else by herself, without the need of the cure. Of course, we all knew she would because these books have gotten nothing if not predictable. Predictability is another thing that turned me off this book: none of the "twists" came as a shock to me. Not a one. I am usually fairly intuitive about plot twists, a skill honed from hundreds of hours spent reading mysteries and watching CSI in all its varieties. But I am still thrown for a loop on occasion, and, more often, while I'm not necessarily "surprised" by a twist, I didn't find it obvious, either. That's where these books had been, but they lost it in Specials.

I found myself wanting to know more about what happened with the others. We got a basic rundown of what happened with the entire world, what happened with the other Cutters (especially Shay), but there were parts I wish I had actually seen happen. I wanted the details. I felt like they would have been more interesting than the Adventures of Tally.

A few random points:
  • Zane. My poor bb. I figured something like this would happen to him, but still. *sob*
  • "Icy" was a great addition to the vocabulary realm and fit the description very well.
  • I was a little put off by David's proclamation at the end of the book. I don't care what you say: black eyes and, especially, pointy, triangular, razor-sharp teeth are creepy, yo (not to mention incredibly hazardous for making out). She doesn't just "look like Tally." I know David is supposed to look past all her imperfections and love her without regard to her appearance and all that, but this was just a little beyond the boundaries of believability for me. And don't get me started on the fact that the nails were apparently only razor-sharp when it was convenient rather than when they would have been annoying/hazardous/disastrous, which would have been a huge chunk of the time. Unless they were retractable or something, which I may have missed, I'll admit.
Now, I don't want my review to come off too negatively. I did enjoy Specials, and it was a good story. However, it did not live up to the last two books. I am not sure what I think of the next one, either. I definitely want to read it, but I hope it doesn't get too preachy about environmentalism. I am all for recycling and the like, but I don't like getting pounded over the head with it. However, I would like to see how the series ends, so I'll read it, regardless. And, of course, die-hard romantic that I am, I want to see Tally and David's story. I did like Tally/Zane better, but I'm definitely not surprised that Tally/David was where it was headed. And I am not opposed to them; they're cute.

Now, onto the last book in this...trilogy? Wish me luck!

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