Sunday, January 1, 2012

Review: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Uglies (Uglies, #1)
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Published: February 2005 (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing)
Rating: 4 stars
Summary: Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that? Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license -- for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

My Review: I have been hearing about the Uglies series for what seems like half of forever. I always thought they sounded appealing, and I even picked the first one up from the library once but returned it unread. However, a couple days ago, I found the first two books at a local thrift store for 99 cents apiece. When I spotted them, I practically tripped over myself making a mad grab for them before anyone else could spot the marvelous deal sitting in front of their very eyes. I'm not entirely sure what prompted this, as there was no one particularly near besides my sister and one woman with whom I had carried on a perfectly pleasant conversation about the Stephanie Plum series moments earlier. Regardless of the motivation, I made a slight fool of myself, but in the end, I got the books. That's what matters, I suppose.

I started the book the morning of December 31st, and I was hooked right away. I became completely engrossed in this fascinatingly original dystopian world. I was intrigued by the premise, and the execution by Westerfeld was fantastic. I never wanted to put this book down. The unusual world, the unique-without-being-absurd names, the terminology that was different from our own yet easily understood, interesting characters, and a compelling plot all existed in this book. These are all things that reflect positively on Westerfeld and his ability to craft a superb dystopian novel. I loved reading about Tally and how she changed throughout the book and how her opinions changed with her. Another thing I enjoyed was the fact that with this world, the characters can refer to all the wasteful and stupid things people did in our time. It references wastefulness and racism and things like that, and because of the setting, it does everything without sounding preachy. It is necessary for the story, and it also makes you stop and think from time to time. Even moreso, it does the same thing for beauty, which is absolutely wonderful. Beauty is all in the beholder; you don't have to be flawless to be beautiful.

I also liked the end of the book. It left you longing to know more and ready to break out the next book, but it didn't make you want to throw it across the room in frustration/anger/impatience (like, say, Possession). I do respect the cliff-hanger as a literary device, but I think it is overused and, often, unnecessary. This book, while it did leave off at a strategic plot point, let you know what was about to happen. And if you were intrigued enough by the whole story, you would definitely want to read the second one. At least, that is how it struck me. I appreciated it and liked it a lot.

I felt that the romance was a little quick to develop, but it didn't take away from the story. In fact, is was really necessary to keep the pacing of the book. I just tend to notice these things, as I'm one of those people who can't get enough of the build-up and development of relationships. It's my favorite part; nine times out of ten, I infinitely prefer it to the actual "relationshippy" part of a relationship. But I digress. I am waiting to see what happens to these two and have yet to commit to them as the ship I actually support for the series.

The originality of the storyline and the stance it takes on real beauty are probably my favorite things about this book. I am enjoying it a lot so far, and I cannot wait to read the rest of the series! I got the third and fourth from the library, so I am all set. I can only hope that the rest of them are as good. I guess I'll see...

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Psst! I now reside over at The Book Barbies. I'd still love to hear your thoughts, though!