REVIEW: Uglies (Uglies #1) by Scott Westerfeld

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars, Genre: Dystopian Fiction, Pages: 425, Level: Easy

Book Description:

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…

The Uglies series is an interesting concept:

There was a certain kind of beauty, a prettiness that everyone could see. Big eyes and full lips like a kid’s; smooth, clear skin; symmetrical features; and a thousand other little clues. Somewhere in the backs of their minds, people were always looking for these markers. No one could help seeing them, no matter how they were brought up. A million years of evolution had made it part of the human brain.

The big eyes and lips said: I’m young and vulnerable, I can’t hurt you, and you want to protect me. And the rest said: I’m healthy, I won’t make you sick. And no matter how you felt about a pretty, there was a part of you that thought: If we had kids, they’d be healthy too. I want this pretty person… p16-17

The government is the great equalizer. While there is still a sense of individuality once a person becomes a pretty, there is no doubt that everyone is pretty. And everyone is happy.

The main character, Tally, discovers that not everyone becomes a pretty. Her friend Shay has no intention of having the operation; she wants to go to the Smoke, a refuge for those who flee from the city and Shay wants Tally to go with her.

Uglies is an easy and quick read. I decided to read it with my daughter because CommonSense.org rated it as appropriate for her age range and she has shown interest in dystopian fiction. The story does address some social issues, especially the importance people place on looks, what is really beautiful, etc., which is a good thing to discuss with a pre-teen. There is some mild bad language, drinking and reference to making out.

It’s not on the top of my list, but I do recommend Uglies.

Reviewed by Christina
March 16, 2014

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