Book Review: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Book Synopsis

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. In just a few weeks she’ll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunning pretty. And as a pretty, she’ll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun.

But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to become a pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world– and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally’s choice will change her world forever…

4 Stars!

Disclaimer: I know I’m way behind the times on this series, but I think it still holds up great!

I’d been meaning to read Uglies for months, ever since my friend Emily sent me home with it and about 12 other books (mostly Tamora Pierce) that I had completely missed reading when I was younger. I finally picked it up since I’ll actually be seeing Scott Westerfeld at a signing soon and figured I should probably read something he has written before. (Interestingly, when I posted a picture of it on Instagram, a lot of people warned me that Uglies isn’t like today’s dystopians, but other people raved about it, so I went in not really sure what to expect.)

I really enjoyed Uglies. It was a fun, quick read that, though a bit predictable given the mass amount of dystopians since it was written, still kept me thoroughly engaged. I loved seeing the character growth throughout the book, especially for Tally and Shay. All Tally ever wanted was to be Pretty, and Shay wanted to stay who she was. But by the end, they no longer feel even remotely the same. This complete role reversal was done very well and really made the realities of the situation set in.

The worldbuilding was fantastic! I really, really want a hoverboard now. It was incredibly vivid and easy to visualize the settings, both in the city and the wilderness, and I truly felt Tally’s longing for New Pretty Town as if it were real. I could easily see how from the time you moved into Uglyville all you would want, from being conditioned and seeing your friends go, would be to turn Pretty.

“Becoming pretty doesn’t just change the way you look,” she said.
“No,” David said. “It changes the way you think.”

The plot was fairly basic and straightforward, but was still entertaining. It wasn’t the most creative book ever, but I do think that even today like 14 years after it was published it still stands as a solid YA dystopian. The twist was definitely to be expected and I saw it coming from very, very early on. It was pretty obvious that the New Pretties were changed more than just their appearances. That the operation messed with their brains was not at all surprising to me. Keep the population docile and all that.

The one thing I could have done without was the romance. We were SO CLOSE! We almost made it to the end without one, but nope! We had to have a romance. *sighs*

Overall, I enjoyed Uglies and will probably continue with the rest of the series. It did end on quite the cliffhanger, which was exactly what I would have expected, and I really want to find out what happens to Tally (though hopefully without the cheesy romance).

I’m Tally Youngblood. Make me pretty.

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