Tuesday 13 October 2009

Uglies by Scott Westerfield

Pages - 425

Published in UK in 2006 by Simon & Schuster

Challenges - Fall Into Reading and 100 books.

Tally is a fifteen year old girl who just like any other girl can't wait to turn sixteen. Unlike anyone in our world, turning sixteen means Tally turns Pretty. All sixteen year olds undergo an operation to transform them from Ugly to Pretty, which then allows you to enter a world of fast living and high entertainment. Tally is desperate to get there and be with her friends who have already turned Pretty.

In the last couple of months before Tally turns Pretty, she makes a new friend Shay who isn't sure that being Pretty is the way she wants to spend the rest of her life. She would rather risk living on the outside and finding the rebellion who live in the Smoke. When Shay runs away, Tally is sent out to find her, knowing that she will never turn Pretty unless she returns with Shay. Once on the outside, Tally learns that being Pretty isn't just about looks.

I have to say when I started reading this book, I felt like I had been transported to Barbie World and I was expecting Skipper or Ken to jump out from behind every page. The Pretties are just so dull, yet beautiful to look at. They have no personality and just exist to party. I think I would rather take my chances as an Ugly than turn into a Pretty.

This book gives the impression that everyone is living in a Utopian society created after the mass destruction of our present civilization, yet as the book goes on you realise that it is definitely more of a Dystopian society, with the eyes of Big Brother looking over your shoulder and watching your every move. This book is about control and keeping society in its place, according to the ruling government's decisions.

At the beginning of the book, all the teenagers travel by hover board and I was reminded instantly of Back to the Future 2, where Marti goes into the future. Some of the descriptions in the book, could have been scenes in the film, they were so similar.

Do I sound like I didn't enjoy this book? That couldn't be further from the truth. I loved it, once I got past the first couple of chapters. It had all the ingredients of a Dystopian novel which I enjoy.
  • A strong female character, always a must.

  • Running - all Dystopian YA novels that I have read, have their main character, either running to or from something.

  • Danger - keeping you on the edge of the seat.

  • Conflicting love interest - always falling in love with the wrong person. The one who will eventually break your heart.

  • The cliff hanger ending - making you spit feathers because you are unable to get hold of the next book.

  • The strange world in which they live in. I take my hat off to the authors who create these believable worlds.

Tally becomes a fantastic main character, once she opens her eyes and realises that everything isn't as it seems. She takes on everything that is thrown at her, just like Katniss in The Hunger Games. Tally is strong, persistent and a real gutsy girl.

This book looks at a topic that would be of real importance to any teenager or even the tweenies. Having preteens myself, I am aware of how they view their appearance as important. Most teenagers I have met (not all may I add and mainly girls rather than boys) are so obsessed with the way they look and judge everyone around them by how pretty they are. Most have yet to learn that beauty really is only skin deep and that what you have on the inside is what makes you beautiful. Scott Westerfield has taken the image conscious view and distorted it, almost turning it upside down on it head. By the end of the book you are convinced that being Ugly is a major plus factor. Imagine if we all underwent an operation to look perfect, taking away the scars and irregularities that make us who we are and define our history. What a sad world it would be.

After the first few chapters, I found this book to be a real page turner and I struggled to put it down, distracting me from my real duties in life, like helping my children with their homework, or sewing their jazz trousers, or even putting their hair up for the fifth time whilst trying to eliminate the inevitable bumps when children have curly hair.

I think this book would definitely go into my top three of Dystopian novels along with The Hunger Games and The Knife of Never Letting Go. If you are a fan of Dystopian Young Adults trilogies, then I would highly recommend reading this one too.

Here are some other reviews of this book.


Just Books

Bookgirl of Mur-y- Castell

Melissa's Bookshelf

At Home With Books


  1. I can't believe I haven't read this. I must put this into my wish list. :)

  2. I so loved it too, I must be a huge fan of dystopian YA novels. i really should read that one you had in your top 3

  3. I have heard only good things about these books. At some point, I will try them out.

  4. Hello, Vivienne! Like you, I really enjoyed this book! I also loved Pretties and Specials. The 4th book, Extras, was a bit of a downer though.

  5. I've heard great things about this book. Very cool that it reminded you of Back to the Future.
    Great review!

  6. I have to look for this one- sounds like it's right up my alley.

  7. Sounds pretty scary to me. Talk of this 'operation' made me think just who exactly would decide what pretty was - after all they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder - would there be some sort of a template? A very interesting idea for a book, it certainly must raise some questions.

  8. I love these books so much. They were my first introduction to Westerfeld, back in January, and I've read all of his YA books (except Leviathan, which I'm dutifully saving for Readathon) this year. I couldn't do the smart thing and spread him out.

    If you had trouble with the Pretties in the first couple chapters, I'm not sure how much you'll like the second book. Many people have problems with it, especially with the language, but honestly, I thought Pretties was the best book in the series, mainly because it introduced the first character I've been really attached to since reading Jane Eyre a year before. Zane. Sigh.

  9. Haven't read this yet, but my daughter loved the series.

  10. I like the US cover so much better for this one. I haven't read The Knife of Letting Go yet, but it's on my list - I love dystopian fiction! Have you read The Giver by Lois Lowry? It's another really good read in this genre.

  11. My husband read the free pdf version of this and had to go out and buy the other 2 books in the trilogy. Glad you enjoyed it too.

  12. Great review! I absolutely loved this series - make sure you read Extras, too, a fourth book added to what was originally going to be a trilogy.

  13. Great review, Vivienne! I have seen this book at the bookstore and talked about on blogs but I don't think I really knew what it was about until now. Sounds very good and something I'd get a kick out of. Definitely going on my radar!

  14. I love this cover - so different from the ones I've seen around here.

  15. The UK cover freaks me out. I have to get to this.

    I really loved you review & all the tidbits.

    Thank you :).

  16. This sounds so good! The cover made me think it would be a bit like Nip/Tuck. See what judging a book by a cover does? deprives you of a good book ;) Going oon the list.

  17. Great review, Vivienne! I am glad you enjoyed this book so much:)

  18. I keep hearing about Scott Westerfield and really want to give him a go. I really liked this review, Viv. So well written, and intrigues me more about Westerfield's writing.

  19. Isn't this book amazing?! I haven't read the others yet but I recently picked up a series that reminds me a bit of this one for some reason. It's called Tomorrow, the War Began by John Marsden


  20. This is one I really enjoyed, and I'm glad you liked it as well. Will you be reading the other three?


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