Book: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Publishing Info: Published by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing; 425 pages in paperback
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.
This is such an interesting book, and I love the premise. A society where people get surgery at 16 so that they can look pretty? It’s somewhat scary, but also interesting.
I loved the world that Westerfeld built. The places were interesting, as were the people. I definitely could imagine the events of Uglies happening in the near future.
I found Tally very easy to relate to. Her horror at Shay wanting to be ugly, and wanting to be pretty. It got me thinking about conformity and beauty standards. Staying an ugly is a bad thing, and it seems pretty unimaginable to Tally that anyone would choose to be ugly. And it’s not just one surgery, but several over the course of their lives. As they hit certain stages in life, they go through another surgery. It turns out that having the 1st surgery causes legions, and those legions change people. And only a handful of jobs make them go away.
It says a lot about the society, that a lot of importance is placed on beauty. And that Maddie and Az, who discovered the surgeries caused legions, had to flee or pretend that they don’t exist. The outside world is bad, and undergoing surgery solved world peace and anorexia, among other things.
It makes you think beauty, and what it means to be pretty. It’s interesting to see how beauty standards do (or do not) change over time. In the book, there’s a Pretty Committee that decides what is considered beautiful for the next generation. It’s very readable, and beauty isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
I also like that the book seems to stand on its own fairly well. It’s the first of 3, and while there are some loose ends that weren’t tied up, things were resolved enough so that you don’t need to continue the series.
I give it a 4 out of 5. It really does make you think, and his world-building is pretty good.