Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld... A Review

Sometimes Beauty isn't just Skin Deep...

What could be more important to a teenager raging with hormones, acne, and all the awkwardness that the teenage years are filled with?... Fitting in maybe?... Welcome to the world of Tally Youngblood, where at age 16 you are turned pretty and everything is wonderful... or so you would think...

Scott Westerfeld has created a future filled with Hoverboards, Interface rings and crash bracelets... Uglies is a future that is different, but strangely recognizable and believable.

Uglies is set in the future after society picked itself up after almost total annihilation and created a world where the errors of the past would never be part of the future... The world was different back then when the "Rusties" built the cities they lived in from metal, oil was the main source of fuel, and they lived like 'animals' among the trees and open lands. The new society was better... Everyone was beautiful, life was easier, food was plentiful. The children were protected by checkpoints and curfews, invisible barriers and finally by becoming 'Pretty'. In Uglies you're considered 'Ugly' until at the age of 16 EVERYONE goes thru a surgical procedure to conform to what society deems 'Pretty'... acceptable. From a "Littlie", you are taught that you are ugly... because your features are not perfect, your lips might be too thin, your hair might be frizzy, or you might not be curvy enough. Talk about helping a teenager's self esteem! But there is an answer, and that answer happens at age 16, when you are made drop dead gorgeous. There are parties every night, you are accepted by everyone, and life is easy... But what if you like being who you are? What if you don't want to be like everyone else? Is happiness really just a pretty face?

Tally Youngblood is 15 waiting for her birthday to become Pretty. Her best friend Peris, who she has grown up with, already became pretty and she is lonely and desperate to join him in New Pretty Town, where he lives now. As she sneaks over to New Pretty Town to talk to Peris, causes an amazing bit of trouble, and tries to get back over the river to where the Uglies live, she meets Shay... and all Tally knows about life and her future is turned upside down...

Tally is young, adventurous, and full of life. Shay is her equal in all of that, except she looks at becoming a Pretty differently... She questions societies forcing this conformity and looks at the values that the Pretty's have as shallow... But their friendship blossoms with late night adventures and mischief... Until one day Shay tells Tally there is another choice besides becoming Pretty... there is another place... The Smokes...

Friendship & Love, Loyalty & Betrayal, Regret and Redemption are all words I think of in describing this story. What makes a person beautiful? What are the important things in life? What is special about being your own person? This YA story touches on all these important questions and will make you sit back and think. As the story unfolds, Scott Westerfeld creates a history we can follow, shows us how things aren't always quite what they seem on the surface and what an amazing adventure life is, especially when Tally looks outside the box to see a world she could never have imagined and one in which the "authorities" take great measure to try and destroy. The friendship between Tally and Shay is believable & wonderful! There is plenty of action and thrills as Tally makes a journey to find her true self! Scott Westerfeld has created a world you can step inside and explore. You'll be turning those pages to find out what happens next! The characters are rich and the writing is compelling. This is a YA novel, but adults will enjoy reading it as well. I know I really enjoyed reading it! There is a cliff hanger at the end of the story, but the book stands on its own and you will enjoy it even if you don't read any further. The Uglies is a 4 book series... (originally it was suppose to be a trilogy, but there was one more story in Scott!)... I just ordered the rest of the series... and I can't wait! If you were ever went through the angst of being a teenager and had a BFF you will appreciate Uglies!

I read this as part of my DystopYA Reading Challenge. Dystopian fiction is generally fiction about a world that is attempting to be perfect but contains a fatal flaw, and you'll soon find out what that flaw is in Uglies!

Have you read this series yet? What did you think? Do you think being 'Pretty' is the answer to societies problems? Share your thoughts! I'd love to read them! Follow this link to Chapter One! And Scott Westerfeld has written a great selection of discussion questions for Uglies! Here is the Link! The questions illustrate what a thought provoking book this really is...

*P.S. This Book is Kindle Ready!

14 comments:

hcmurdoch said...

I REALLY enjoyed this series of books, though I haven't read Extras yet. The students at my school really enjoy it as well.

I don't think we want to admit it, but being pretty/attractive definitely has advantages. Studies show (and of course I can't quote them) that pretty babies get more love and attention. Such a sad commentary, but true.

~Jennifer~ said...

Great reviews. Uglies is the only book in the series I have read so far and I loved it. It made my top 10 books read in 2009, it was so good.

Suzanne said...

Hi hcmurdoch,
Yes, it is a sad commentary. A fault though that probably makes us human. This book really showcases the extremes of wanting to fit in... and the ultimate consequences of thinking that beauty is the answer... Thanks for leaving your thoughts!

Suzanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
I think I would put Uglies in my top 10 too! It was so well written! I just could not put it down. I'll be keeping my eye out to see if you list your top 10 on your blog! Take care....

Melissa said...

I just finished the entire Uglies series and was very impressed. The books were impossible to put down while I was reading them and I found myself thinking about them a lot later. Might even be close to making my Top 10 of 2009 also.

Suzanne said...

Hi Melissa!
Thanks for stopping by and joining in on the conversations about the Uglies! It's nice to know that the whole series is just as good as the first book! I was wondering though... if the series was suppose to end at book 3 (Specials), does the author tie things up then, or does book 4 (Extras) tie things up? ...The UPS girl just dropped off my set of the Uglies series! :D

bashtree said...

Thanks for this review! I haven't read much YA but I think I want to change that. This might be a good starting point.

Dannie said...

I love the Uglies series. It's so...different.

justpeachy36 said...

I haven't read anything from this series. But, after reading your review, I think it's something I might be interested in. I'll have to check it out... Great Review!

Suzanne said...

Hi bashtree!
There is a connection you can feel with a well written YA novel even if you are an adult. Uglies is a good example of this! Let me know what you think when you get a chance to read it!

Suzanne said...

Hi Dannie!
You had a great post on your blog to YA fiction writers, so I take it to heart when you say you loved the Uglies! It seemed to me that the author hit the nail on the head with the emotional impact of all the choices made in the book! Thanks for sharing!

Suzanne said...

Hi justpeachy36,
If you like Dystopian YA fiction, you should enjoy this series. If you crack the spine let me know, I'd love to see what you thought!

Alyce said...

I absolutely loved the Uglies series, and read them pretty much one right after the other (as soon as I got my hands on them).

Cheryl said...

May I ask where you purchased your Uglies books from?

Also, I have another question. Out of this list, which would you recommend the most.

1.Uglies series
2.Little Bee
3.The Unit
4.The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
5.The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

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Suzanne's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

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