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.