YA er... Saturday: Uglies by Scott Westerfield

Saturday, April 02, 2011

I've been a bum of a blogger lately. I'm not sure what it was this week, but I didn't seem to get half the things done that I needed to do. Fortunately there are only two weeks of school left, and then I have a month of freedom before I sell my soul to nursing school. Right now my husband is here , at a biannual international meeting for my church. (This session is especially for men). So lucky me, I have time to catch up a bit on blogging. :)

Title: Uglies
Author: Scott Westerfield
Genre: YA, dystopian
Publisher: Simon Pulse, 2005
Source: Provo Library

Uglies is set in a society where, at the age of sixteen, everyone undergoes a plastic surgery operation to make them "pretty." Their features are averaged out and they go to live in New Pretty Town, a place of partying, romance, and fun. Tally has spent her life wishing to be pretty. Her eagerness is intensified when her best friend, Peris, turns sixteen and moves on to New Pretty Town without her. Tally makes friends with another ugly, Shay, also missing her friends and eager to turn sixteen - or so Tally initially thinks. Soon she learns that Shay has other plans for when she turns sixteen - and those other plans bring Tally into a world far more complicated than she'd imagined possible.

After reading Leviathan, I knew to expect a slightly younger feel to this book. With that expectation, I really enjoyed the plot. I don't want to reveal too much, because part of the charm of the story for me was the fact that I had no idea what was going to happen. Suffice it to say that Westerfield's alternate reality is interesting, and Tally's adventures will keep you eager to learn more.

I also enjoyed the characters. The major characters, Tally, Shay, and David, all had very different personalities, something I sometimes find lacking in other books where main characters' personalities are a bit too similar. I also loved the relationships between all the characters, especially Tally and Shay's friendship. I loved how quickly their friendship developed and how close they became - I miss that about the younger years of high school. Thinking about it now, I met most of my good friends about the time when Tally and Shay met, when I was fifteen. The dynamic of their friendship just seems really legitimate. The romance in this story is also quite believable - who hasn't stayed up all night talking to a boy, only to be completely incompetent the next morning? Westerfield deals with themes of jealousy, first love, and friendship in a way that, despite being set in a completely new world, rings true.

I really like the questions that this book raises. What if everyone was "pretty?" How does the government stratify society by imposing that? In the book, Tally sees "artifacts" of books and magazines with "ugly" people, and she is revolted by them, but later, she learns to appreciate the uniqueness in each individual face. I think these are great questions for younger teens to ask themselves, especially in a society where eating disorders run rampant and teens are often ostracized into different cliques (I know all high schools aren't clique-ish, but many are).

The one thing I didn't love about the book was the writing style. Once again, this may be a result of the intended audience, but everything felt a little cheesy and occasionally dumbed down to me. The slang was so obvious that it wasn't believable to me. "New Pretty Town" seems like a region of an amusement park, not a legitimate town. It wasn't awful, but the cheese just put me off a little bit.

Overall, it was a fun, light read. I really think this is a great book for younger teens to read, and older teens and adults if they can get past the slightly younger writing and cheesiness.

Readability: Easy read.
Plot: 3.5
Characters: 4
Writing: 2.5
Personal response: 3
Overall: 3.25


  1. I really enjoyed this book, but I agree with you about the writing style. I actually found it difficult to finish the series because of the style. It's a neat idea though.

  2. I have read a lot of positive reviews about this book. And I read Leviathan and enjoyed it. I know what you mean about the writing being a little young but that is what the book is directed at ... a younger audience. Still, I think that you are right about the themes being relevant ant any age.

  3. Sounds like you may just not like Westerfeld's writing style at all. I adore it, but I can understand why it's not for everyone. If you found the slang annoying, don't read Pretties. It's extremely slang-heavy and while that didn't bother me, it really bothers most people (even people who really like the series).

  4. Oh I'm glad you seemed to have enjoyed this one! I got it for 50 cents at a book sale in January, I should probably get to it soon...

    Thanks for the review!

  5. I adore this series. Like you, I don't mind that it is for younger readers, I get so swept up in the world he creates - and LOVE how awesome his female characters are - that I'm just along for the ride. I've read other reviews where people commented that they found the slang cheesy too, but I actually thought it sounded pretty natural. I think Extras is my favourite of the series.

  6. I LOVE this series. Other than The Giver, it was some of the first Dystopian I had read (is it wrong to be pleased that I was a dystopian fan before The Hunger Games?! :P)

    Have you finished the series yet?! Because, IMO, the books and the story line just keeps getting better. I actually really like Westerfeld's writing style, because while there is some of it that does feel a bit younger, he writes in such a way that younger kids can read it, and not feel talked down or condescended to, but it's still complex enough for adults and older teens to really enjoy it as well.

    This is one of my favorite series. I think the best dystopian books are the ones that take an amplify a specific trait or flaw in society to really show you why/how it can be damaging.

  7. I haven't finished it yet! My sister-in-law said the books got cheesier and cheesier so I haven't felt too prompted to keep going, although I've always planned on finishing eventually. However, I trust your taste so I might have to move them up on the list. I do think it is a really interesting concept and definitely gives a purpose to the dystopian trend of being meaningful, not just entertaining.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...