Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Uglies - by Scott Westerfeld


I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I often do, which is why I glanced at a copy of Uglies when it came out a few years ago, and I wasn’t even tempted to pick it up. As the adult Chick-Lit genre has blossomed so has the young adult version. I have no problem with the popularity of the genre, I’m just not particularly interested in it myself. I mistook Uglies to be one of those books with a female main characters obsessing over romantic possibilities and clothing, and while it contained both of those elements, it turned out to be much more.

Uglies is set in a futuristic society where everyone receives plastic surgery at the age of 16 to make them beautiful. The idea behind the transformations is that if everyone was beautiful, no one should feel better than anyone else, no wars would be fought over the color of people’s skin if everyone looks similar.

Tally, the main character, begins the book eagerly awaiting her 16th birthday so she can join the other “pretties” in their carefree lives. The thought that someone might not want to be changed never occurs to her until she meets Shay, another girl in her class about to turn sixteen. At first she doesn’t believe Shay’s stories of a place that people escape to if they don’t want the surgery, but after Shay disappears the authorities show up to question Tally and they confirm Shay’s story. They tell Tally she must help them find Shay and the other runaways or they will never do her surgery and she must remain ugly in a world of beauties forever. Tally is torn between her promise to her friend, her curiosity to know the truth, and her desire to become beautiful.

I found myself thoroughly caught up in Tally’s predicament and my reading became progressively slower as I neared the end of the book because I didn’t want it to be over. Luckily for me, it’s part of a trilogy and I just picked up the next book, Pretties at the library.

Now that I look at the cover, it’s more appropriate than I originally thought. I hesitate to classify this book as science fiction simply because it might discourage chic-lit readers from picking it up too, and I think they would enjoy it. Stephenie Meyer says that Twilight is a vampire novel that she wrote for people who do not like vampire novels and her next project is a science fiction book for people who don’t like science fiction. In the meantime, that’s what I’m calling this novel. Besides, who can resist picking up a book that begins with the line, “The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit”?

8 comments:

Amanda said...

I had never heard of this book, but yesterday I not only read your post, I saw it on display at the bookstore. You're right about the cover...but the concept sounds as if it may be interesting. I'll probably place it on the Neverending TBR list, we'll see if I get to it. Great review though!

Emilyi said...

This trilogy is really interesting. I think Scott Westerfeld does an amazing job appealing to both boys and girls. It's a great trilogy with interesting characters and plot.
Great review.

Okie said...

Great review. Thanks for sharing. :)

Becky said...

Uglies intrigued me. I loved the trilogy. But what I find almost equally fascinating are the differences between the UK book covers and the American ones. Have you seen these by any chance??? I'd love to know your thoughts as to which one would be most appealing to you.

lifelongreader said...

Sounds interesting - likewise I have seen the book and passed over it. I will definitely have a look at it again.

Anonymous said...

i love this book. day by day i was amazed at how lost i got in it. it has great characters and great story of how the world is becoming more fake and plastic.

Larry said...

Add this to my future read list.

Crystal Lush said...

one of the best books ever ... haha i even liked it better than harry potter...which really surprises me!