Thursday, 12 January 2012

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Uglies

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Date Read: From December 14th to December 16th, 2011

On TBR for: 351 days

Format: Physical Book

Source: Gift - Christmas gift

The world of Uglies is our own, but after we damaged our planet and ourselves almost to the point of no return, society gets restarted in a place where everything is self-sufficient and no one is discriminated based on their physical appearance because, ta-dahh, everyone is pretty. Well, not everyone, everyone over the age of 16, because before that they are not old enough to go under the knife. So, these young teenagers who have yet to discover the wonders of cosmetic surgery are called Uglies. Because it's what they are – Ugly.

Tally is one of those, months away from getting her operation, and she can't hardly wait to join the rest of her friends in the parties and being simply amazing. She is the last of her mates to turn 16, so she feels really alone in Uglyville, so much that she decides to go sneak up to New Pretty Town, to check on her BFF, Peris, who has been there for so long and hasn't bothered to write. Or call.

Things do not go exactly as planned, Tally is trespassing after all, but she satisfies her need to see her friend, who makes her promise not to get into more trouble before she gets the operation, and she meets someone else doing the same as her, Shay, who becomes her new best friend.

They do stuff together all the time, enjoying their time left in Uglyville to play all the pranks they want, Shay even teaches Tally to hoverboard (yes, hooerboard, think Marty McFly and Back to the Future). But when the big day looms close (and it's the big day for both of them, they share a birthday), Shay tells Tally she doesn't want to pretty (*gasp* The Horror!), instead she is going to runaway and join a group of rebels who also don't want to be pretty, known as Smokies (they live in The Smoke). Shay would have liked to have Tally runaway with her, but Tally is not having that. She wants to be pretty. But since she is in such good terms with Shay, she promises to think about it, and Shay leaves her a coded message on how to get to The Smoke.

Tally would never use that, of course, if The Powers That Be hadn't noticed Shay's leaving and Shay's new best friend. As it was, they made her an Ultimatum, she either had to help them catch the Smokies (breaking a promise to Shay of not telling her secret) or she would be ugly forever. Poor Tally thinks, and thinks, and decides to help TPTB somewhat – she'll go to Smoke, see what it's all about, and then she'll decide whether to betray her friend's trust or not.

And so, with hoverboard in hand, a pack full of concentrated Spaghetti Bolognese, Tally hovers away to get to The Smoke, not without perils, since this girl almost got roasted alive (this section remind me of The Hunger Games).

And let me stop here before I summarize the entire book. (There aren't many spoilers, though, most of this is on the back cover, only much more concentrated summarized)

Anyway... It took sometime to have the courage to pick this book up. Why? Well, to me beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, and my eyes are sometimes different from other eyes. So, this world where everyone was pretty, it wasn't gathering points with me. But I started the book, and I understood the concept of beauty used here – mainstream beauty, evening out differences, going for the big eyes, pouting mouth look of innocence, that ensured that there was a biological/psychological need to protect and love that person. I would be utterly miserable in that world, of course, but I can understand the reasons why it worked. As I continued reading I could also see how this world could be seen as school metaphor – the younger Uglies earning to enter that cool place that is New Pretty Town (*ahem, cof, High School, cof*).

Tally, with her eagerness to also be pretty, never really impressed me. She was fun, but had the book been about someone else, it would have been the same for me – I was reading for the world and the society, not the characters. In fact, I will continue reading the series for those reasons, even if there was some growth, at least where Tally is concerned. There was also a bit of romance in there, which, unsurprisingly, didn't impress me either.

This book's strengths are both the worldbuilding, and the action. There is plenty of action going on, from Tally and Shay's pranks, to the lone trip of Tally through the wasteland that our world has become, to the events on Smoke, rescue missions, hiding and going undercover. Lots of stuff that kept the pages flying by.

It did end on a cliffhanger (one has to ensure that readers will pick up the next book, right?), and as such I want to know what happens next. I also want to learn more about the world.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Other Reviews: A Journey of Books | Book Chick City | Este Meu Cantinho | The Non Reluctant Reader

This Book on: LibraryThing | GoodReads | BookDepository UK | Book Depository US | Amazon UK| Amazon US| Wook | Wook

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