Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
The world is a bleak place unless you’re attractive, and for Tally Youngblood, nothing is further from the truth as she awaits her sixteenth birthday, and the compulsory operation that will change her from an ugly into a pretty.
With the operation, Tally will finally be accepted into society and be able to spend time with her old friends, all of whom have been changed, and moved from the dorms of Uglyville to the mansions of New Pretty Town.
A few months before the operation, Tally meets another ugly named Shay, who shares the same birthday, teaches her how to ride a hoverboard, and keeps her company during the lonely months. The two are almost inseparable, teaching each other tricks and going on expeditions out of Uglyville and into the great unknown.
But Shay is hesitant about becoming a pretty, and when she runs away, Tally is confronted by a group of authorities known only as Special Circumstances, who give her an ultimatum: find Shay and turn her in, or never turn pretty.
Now Tally has a difficult choice to make, especially when she discovers that Shay is not the only runaway and to turn her in will destroy an entire community that has survived away from the corruption of the big cities. But if she doesn’t betray her friend, how will she ever be pretty?
What I gained from reading this book:
Beautiful people often seem to get through life a lot easier than people whose looks are less aesthetically pleasing. But this novel takes the concept of ‘winning beauty’ to a new extreme, where anybody who looks normal and hasn’t been operated on by their sixteenth birthday is termed ‘ugly’.
What’s more, there is a type of brainwashing going on that ensures that the divide between pretties and uglies continues to grow. Uglies are made to feel unimportant and are taught that they will only fit into society properly after they are made pretty.
The ironic thing is, according to the pretties, the operation was created so that there would be less discrimination between people who looked different. Yet, the pretties are obviously considered the elite in the world that Westerfeld has created.
This novel ridicules the ideas of social aesthetics, and helps people to realise that being different from others is actually better than looking the same as every other person in the world. Through Uglies, Westerfeld is trying to teach his readers to embrace their individuality.
The idea for the storyline is brilliant and really makes you question the world in which Tally and her friends live in. It is also interesting to watch the relationships between Tally, Shay and young leader David shift and change as each learns new things about themselves and the values they hold.
Westerfeld has created a futuristic world very similar to our own, except that technology is a lot more advanced than what we’re familiar with. So why, with all the creativity flowing through this novel, has he decided to call the home of the uglies Uglyville? And the home of the pretties New Pretty Town? Of course he could have named the townships this to reflect on the lack of imagination the Pretties have, but the names still seem kind of dull in comparison to what they could have been called.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Genre: Teenage Fiction
Recommended for: Anyone who wonders what the world would be like if everyone was beautiful.
Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below: