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Uglies (Uglies Trilogy, Book 1) Paperback – February 8, 2005

1,087 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Uglies Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

Playing on every teen’s passionate desire to look as good as everybody else, Scott Westerfeld (Midnighters) projects a future world in which a compulsory operation at sixteen wipes out physical differences and makes everyone pretty by conforming to an ideal standard of beauty. The "New Pretties" are then free to play and party, while the younger "Uglies" look on enviously and spend the time before their own transformations in plotting mischievous tricks against their elders. Tally Youngblood is one of the most daring of the Uglies, and her imaginative tricks have gotten her in trouble with the menacing department of Special Circumstances. She has yearned to be pretty, but since her best friend Shay ran away to the rumored rebel settlement of recalcitrant Uglies called The Smoke, Tally has been troubled. The authorities give her an impossible choice: either she follows Shay’s cryptic directions to The Smoke with the purpose of betraying the rebels, or she will never be allowed to become pretty. Hoping to rescue Shay, Tally sets off on the dangerous journey as a spy. But after finally reaching The Smoke she has a change of heart when her new lover David reveals to her the sinister secret behind becoming pretty. The fast-moving story is enlivened by many action sequences in the style of videogames, using intriguing inventions like hoverboards that use the rider’s skateboard skills to skim through the air, and bungee jackets that make wild downward plunges survivable -- and fun. Behind all the commotion is the disturbing vision of our own society -- the Rusties -- visible only in rusting ruins after a virus destroyed all petroleum. Teens will be entranced, and the cliffhanger ending will leave them gasping for the sequel. (Ages 12 and up) --Patty Campbell

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 6 Up–Tally Youngblood lives in a futuristic society that acculturates its citizens to believe that they are ugly until age 16 when they'll undergo an operation that will change them into pleasure-seeking "pretties." Anticipating this happy transformation, Tally meets Shay, another female ugly, who shares her enjoyment of hoverboarding and risky pranks. But Shay also disdains the false values and programmed conformity of the society and urges Tally to defect with her to the Smoke, a distant settlement of simple-living conscientious objectors. Tally declines, yet when Shay is found missing by the authorities, Tally is coerced by the cruel Dr. Cable to find her and her compatriots–or remain forever "ugly." Tally's adventuresome spirit helps her locate Shay and the Smoke. It also attracts the eye of David, the aptly named youthful rebel leader to whose attentions Tally warms. However, she knows she is living a lie, for she is a spy who wears an eye-activated locator pendant that threatens to blow the rebels' cover. Ethical concerns will provide a good source of discussion as honesty, justice, and free will are all oppressed in this well-conceived dystopia. Characterization, which flirts so openly with the importance of teen self-concept, is strong, and although lengthy, the novel is highly readable with a convincing plot that incorporates futuristic technologies and a disturbing commentary on our current public policies. Fortunately, the cliff-hanger ending promises a sequel.–Susan W. Hunter, Riverside Middle School, Springfield, VT

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 770L (What's this?)
  • Series: Uglies Trilogy, Book 1 (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse; Original edition (February 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689865384
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689865381
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 5.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,087 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Scott Westerfeld's teen novels include the Uglies series, the Leviathan and Midnighters trilogies, and the so-called "NYC Trilogy": So Yesterday, Peeps, and The Last Days. Scott was born in Texas, and alternates summers between Sydney, Australia, and New York City. His next book, Afterworlds, comes out September 23, 2014.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#64 in Books > Teens
#64 in Books > Teens

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

262 of 277 people found the following review helpful By M. Dartez on September 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
I am a middle school English teacher and enjoy reading Young Adult literature. I also have seen the Twilight Zone episode, with a very similar story line, and it was an episode that has lingered hauntingly in my when I heard of this series, I was very eager to read it. I don't frequently write reviews, but I had to react to the negative reviews that I saw on this site. Though the story line may not be original, the author writes beautifully, using specific vocabulary and beautiful similes, without, at least in my opinion, holding back the story line. Tally is a well-developed character, thoughtful and fully understanding the consequences of her actions. I saved this book for a three-day weekend but read it all last night and this morning. I was unable to put it down and am planning to read all three books this week. I highly recommend this book for readers who enjoy thinking about what our future will be like. I plan to share the first chapter with my Junior Great Books class. I think it will be great fodder for intellectual discussion.
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125 of 140 people found the following review helpful By L. Bligh on December 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
I have not read other novels by the author, but I will be after reading this one. This was an incredibly well written book. The setting was well created and the characters were believable and well developed. There are no great leaps of faith that one has to make with some science fiction attempts. The story line makes sense. You're wondering how could this all work, and just about when you get to the point were you have to have some type of explanation or you're going to get frustrated, the author gives it to you. And I liked the explanations and the logic behind how the world got to this point.

Uglies reminds of The Giver, in that the people feel as though they are in a utopia, and the reader thinks this is great to start out with, and then it all starts falling a part at the seams once you begin really thinking about the plot. I like this book because it raises some of the same questions; how much control should we give the people in power, should you question the world around you, what's with all the rules, conformity, but it does it with the whole idea of receiving cosmetic surgery and hoverboards. The science and technology added to this story make it easier to swallow then The Giver.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
In this futuristic world, when you turn 16, you get an operation that turns you beautiful. Everyone pretty gets a new house in the glamorous part of town-New Pretty Town. This is where Tally Youngblood wants to be. How can she help it, when all anyone learns in school is how much better life is when everyone is beautiful, and when all the people you know don't call you by your name, they call you by your main imperfection? Tally's best friend Peris has just turned pretty,too. After a daring escape into New Pretty Town(no Uglies allowed-after all, why would the plastic -surgeoned people want to look at a real face?) she meets Shay, who shares Tally's birthday. This means neither will have to leave the other for a single day while she becomes pretty,which makes Tally happy. But Shay is a little unusual. She hates the operation, and wants to keep her own face. Despite tally's protests she runs away to a mysterious place called The Smoke, where runaways can be safe, and stay ugly forever. Repulsive, at least to Tally, who Shay begs to come. But she won't. In just a few days, it's Tally's birthday, her ticket out of the Ugly dorm and gazing out the window at New Pretty Town. She'll be a Pretty. Then, on the long-awaited day there's a problem with Tally's operation. A barely believed group called the Special Circumstances takes the reins, giving Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find Shay and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. And Tally wants to be pretty so much... I could not put this book down. It's not pure unbelievability like some sci-fi, giving good reasons for why society is like this, but it's not boring either, fraught with hoverboard chases and things exploding. I'm totally hooked on the trilogy, and will definitely be reading more of Scott Westerfeld's books in the future. Uglies should be recomended reading.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Laura Henri VINE VOICE on September 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
This a review for the audio book version of "Uglies" performed by Carine Montbertrand.

This is geared towards young adults, but believe me it's a book for any age. Scott Westerfeld is one of the few male authors out there who can successfully tell a story through young girl's eyes and get it right. This book is about a world divided into two parts, just as humanity is, ugly and pretty. Up until your 16th birthday you are considered an Ugly, you go to ugly schools, live in ugly dorms, reside in ugly city all the while dreaming of that one day when you will become pretty and get to live the good life in pretty town. Young girls and boys are told they are ugly by their parents and the government, they think they are too fat or skinny; they have big noses and squinty eyes. All they have to look forward too is that day when they turn sweet sixteen and get to shed their Ugly skins to be "normal" and pretty. The Pretties live in gorgeous buildings, throw parties all day; they seemingly have no worries and are always happy.

I know it seems just too literal, okay young people think they are ugly and when they "grow up" they will be able to do whatever they want, and pretty people always seem happier. It goes beyond that. Tally Youngblood is our heroine, her best friend Paris has been turned and she cannot wait to join him. She meets Shay and thus begins a quick friendship. Shay soon shows Tally another world, taking her to the "rusting ruins" on their hover boards (yes I said hover boards you back to the future freaks!) The ruins, are what is left of the "rusties" which you figure out are basically us, but so far gone and abandoned now its all being taken back into the earth, rusting.
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