Saturday, October 2, 2010

Uglies
by Scott Westerfeld

Uglies
Scott Westerfeld
Grades 7 and up
YA Fiction
Series: Uglies Series, Book One

Set on Earth, far into the future, we meet Tally. Tally is almost 16 and yearns to become pretty. In her society, age determines where you live your life. As a Little, you stay with your parents in Crumblyville. When you get older, you go and stay in Uglyville to attend school and learn about becoming a Pretty. The day of your sixteenth birthday, you go across the river to New Pretty Town where you have a long operation to become the ideal standard of what is pretty. Despite some early grumblings of becoming a Pretty as Tally was growing up, she has been looking forward to the surgery ever since her best friend, Peris has the surgery. Everyone has to have the surgery—right?

In a chance meeting, Tally is introduced to Shay, another Ugly about to turn 16. Shay does not want to become a Pretty. Tally cannot believe what she is hearing—she thought everyone has to and wants to become a Pretty. Shay opens her eyes to some troubling realities about the perfect world she thought she lives in. When Shay runs away, Tally is forced to go after her and bring her back or she will never become a Pretty. When she finally finds Shay, her world starts to crumble around her and she is forced to question everything she has been taught, believes and want she wants with her life. Tally has to make a decision that will change the course of her life forever.

This book griped me from the very beginning. Everyone goes through a time in their lives where they yearn to fit in or be somebody. The characters are well developed and easily relatable despite it being set in a completely different time period. As a reader, you are forced to examine our own society (known as the Rusties in the books) and our dependence on oil, the environmental destruction taking place today, what your beliefs are and what you are willing to give up, if anything, in order to fit in. The Uglies would make a wonderful discussion book with older readers who would get the complexities of the story and the themes of the Utopian versus Dystopian societies, giving up the freedoms of self-expression and thought and what you believe is right and wrong.

Starred Review by SLJ
2006 ALA Best Book for Young Adults

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