on September 1, 2007
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 thoughts....so 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.
on December 14, 2005
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.
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. That world, the Uglies are told, had wars and famine and everyone was unhappy, so the scientist "cured" all that by mandating the surgery and therefore "saving" society.
Shay doesn't believe this is right, and tells Tally of another society, a secret one called the "Smokies" and she is joining them before turning 16. Tally is shocked! How could Shay WANT to stay ugly forever? Shay leaves, but not before asking Tally to go with her, but Tally doesn't want to be an ugly anymore...she wants to be happy so she stays, Shay does give her a map just in case she changes her mind. The government on the other hand connects Tally to the Smokies and blackmails her into finding Shay, if she doesn't she will stay Ugly forever.
I won't give everything away, but I will say that the rest involves Tally finding out who she truly is, and what she is capable of. You get to find out what the Pretties actually are, and why, and what exactly lies outside of Ugly and Pretty town. You also get to hear about the "Specials" which are Pretties but with deadly skills.
I cannot recommend this book enough, it's a quick read, its not Kierkegaard but its pretty darn fascinating nevertheless. The reader of this audiobook does an excellent job! I cannot wait to read the second in the series "Pretties".
on August 28, 2006
I bought this book on the recommendations I found online and I'm really glad I did. The synopsis has already been well described here. I just want to add my "thumbs WAAAY up" to all the other glowing reviews. As I read this book, I kept thinking of how the concept of beauty changes so much over time. I wonder what will be considered beautiful in 300 years (about the time this series is set). I was also wondering who got to decide what was beautiful when the operations started, and had it evolved over time. Interesting things to ponder as you read...but making you think is what really good fiction should do.
on January 27, 2007
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.
"The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit."
How can you beat that for an opening sentence?!? I laughed when I read it!
I've heard great reviews about this trilogy (Which I recently found out actually has a 4th book. To my knowledge it was planned as a trilogy.). I picked up all three off of Craigslist for $3. I have to tell you, I read the back and wasn't sold. It sounded totally stupid to choose between having an operation to turn you pretty or betray your friend forever. I was wrong. It was so much more complicated than that.
Life for Tally is in a post-modern world where everything has changed. We are the "rusties" and children go and visit the "rusty ruins" on field trips. I thought that was great!. The world changed because of prejudices. People who were taller, prettier, with flattering figures got all of the jobs. They were held higher in society. So things began to change. Now in Tally's world, at the age of 16, everyone has `the' operation. They are made pretty. It's a pretty horrific process involving drastic plastic surgery of the whole body. Everyone has the operation. If you don't, you have no place in society.
When the Specials tell Tally that she can't have the operation if she doesn't help them find Shay, it isn't such a simple, petty thing. They send her back to the dorms to live with all of the other Uglies. She can't even go and live with her parents. She basically has to give up life to protect her friend. Hurting and affecting not only herself, but all of her friends and family. A hard choice for a 16-year-old to make.
I loved the imagination involved in creating Tally's world.
I did have a hard time getting into the book. In fact, I set it aside to read L.J. Smith's The Vampire Diaries~ The Awakening and The Struggle. It wasn't bad in the beginning, I just didn't get into it at first. It was slow-moving.
Once I got to the end of Part I, I was hooked. I'm glad I stuck it out. Tally's point of view totally changes when she realizes more about the Smokies (the Uglies who have run away) and what really happens during the operation. She learns to love the Smokie way of life and finds herself feeling beautiful as an Ugly. It really is a dig at the social biases that effect our lives today and a `what if' future if we continue life this way. For me, the book dragged a bit at the end as well. Overall though, it was a very well thought-out book and was enjoyable, once you get past the slow parts.
Please come and visit me at my blog, Between the Lines, at [...]. I'd love to hear from you!
on December 14, 2007
The first sentence of this book nearly lost me. "The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit?" I nearly missed the very decent prose of the next paragraph because I was still reeling from the shock of that first line. I mean, if you want to use a metaphor to evoke color, please use something that has a definite color. Might as well have said the sky was the color of a smelly beach towel.
By the end of the first page I realized that "cat vomit" had nothing to do with the sky but was more a metaphor for how the point of view character felt about life in general. It isn't hard to see why she feels wretched. She's been waiting all her life for the operation that will make her pretty: gorgeous features, perfect body shape, big beautiful eyes, so that she can look like all of the other sixteen-year-olds and join them in their eternal pretty party across the river. Right now she feels ugly and petulant, and has nothing better to do than sneak out and break the rules by trying to find her best friend, who already turned pretty and lives in that other glittering world she is waiting to join.
Then she meets someone else, someone who isn't sure that turning pretty is all it's cracked up to be. Pretty soon our heroine is entangled in intrigues, underground resistances, espionage, betrayal, and even gets to do a little smooching on the way.
The book is full of interesting ideas. Hoverboards are REALLY COOL. I wish I had one. The issues of body image and judging people on looks are dealt with in a thought provoking manner, and there's also some environmentalism and remarks on the evils of totalitarianism thrown in there. I enjoy Westerfeld's prose, direct and colorful. He is endlessly inventive with his imaginary technology, and the world he has created is interesting to consider as a fable if not entirely believable as a possible future.
On the other hand, it wasn't a deeply satisfying read. The constant hair-breadth escapes are fun at first, but eventually grow tedious. By the end I wasn't even paying attention to how they "got out of that one." I knew the author would contrive some way for them to manage it. The characters all seemed a little thick: good guys, bad guys, everyone seems to be thinking far too little about what's going on and what they really ought to do about it. The pacing in the middle was so slow I put the book down for a whole week. The second half did draw me along well enough, but at the end I was once again questioning everyone's competence.
It was a good book, don't get me wrong. It was well worth reading, but it had some problems. Nothing really offended me, but younger children wouldn't understand a lot of the issues. I recommend it for ages ten and up.
Many people say that this series is vain, or vapid because of some of the small details surrounding it, I highly disagree. I think this is a fun read that most people should experience, especially to open their minds.
on September 26, 2015
Imagine a world where everyone is pretty. At age 16, everyone gets the same plastic reconstructive surgery. Everyone has the same big eyes, plump lips, clear skin, healthy BMI. Everyone is equal. For Tally Youngblood, she'll soon get to leave behind being an Ugly and join her friend Peris as a Pretty. But what if there are other Uglies who run away from the city to "The Smoke" where they never undergo the surgery? Will Tally let go of her dreams to be pretty?
Scott Westerfeld's dystopian YA generates a structured future community that is remote, unquestioningly happy, and both futuristic but primitice, reminiscent of Lois Lowry's the Giver, a classic in the genre. The societal mentality focused around appearance is so close to the direction our current Hollywood-centric society is heading, it's almost frightening. I keep reading almost as though caught staring at a train as it barrels towards a car on the tracks of the world we're currently living in...
Tally is a typical teen who she likes to do 'ugly-tricks' like sneaking out at night, but she blindly follows the expectations of her world, until she meets a new friend Shay. To be honest, I spent the majority of the book hating Tally. She is so hesitant, mindless, and seemingly shallow. It's hard to accept her mentality as normal in this world. But as the action and pace of the book pick up in parts II and III, so does Tally's conscience, morality and personality. By the end of the book I actually liked her and wanted her to succeed, so of course that is exactly where the cliffhanger hits! I'm off to find the next book in this terrifyingly realistic dystopian series...
on January 23, 2011
Well, this book most certainly had an interesting premise. However, the way Westerfield carried it out was poor. If he had gotten new characters, more creative names for his settings, etc, it may have proved to be much better. However, this did not happen. Westerfield's characters were shallow and hard to really want to care about. For me, one of the most important things in a novel is characters.If I don't care about the characters, I don't care about anything else. Tally spent most of the novel whining about turning pretty, whining about Shay running away and now she has to go find her. The best friend situation was sort of stereotyped. The whole "opposites attract" thing was going on. Very annoying.
The names were not creative. The Uglies live in Uglyville and the Pretties live in Pretty Town. Are you serious? The Uglies are, well, ugly, and the pretties are (*gasp!*) pretty!
And, oh.my.goodness, the opening line of this book! "The sky was the color of cat vomit." Really? That's not the best way to start a novel. We don't need any opening lines that are going to go down in history, but really, that's not a good way to start a book. That's like starting the book, "The clouds were the color of baby poop." I know it was supposed to be symbolic of how Tally was feeling, but come on. And then it goes on to say that Tally thought it was pretty. Wait, what? I don't think anything resembling barf is pretty.
I don't recommend this book, nor the books to follow. If you ABSOLUTELY MUST read it, check it out from the library and spend your money on a GOOD book.