Tally Youngblood is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait for the operation that turns everyone from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to party. But new friend Shay would rather hoverboard to “the Smoke” and be free. 

Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world and it isn’t very pretty. The “Special Circumstances” authority Dr Cable offers Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

I must admit I am a bit biased when it comes to Scott Westerfeld’s novels; I am a huge fan of his work and have read virtually all his books (look out for my upcoming review on Leviathan). However with that being said this is a fantastic novel and with alternative universe and futuristic stories becoming increasing popular, I think you should read one of the best.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld is a captivating novel about a young girl called Tally who is about to turn sixteen and become a ‘pretty’. That is until her new best friend, Shay opens her eyes to a world beyond ‘the smoke’ and shows her that being  ‘pretty’ isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. This science-fiction read is captivating from the first page and takes the reader on a whirlwind journey to find Shay after she escapes ugly town, forcing Tally to choose between being pretty or staying ugly forever.

While it is a great read with a plot that has more twists and turns than a Game of Thrones episode,  Westerfeld also addresses some key issues present in modern society such as self-esteem and self-image, racism, war and conflict just to name a few. The book primarily focuses on body image and society’s view on how people should look, this is present in the mandatory ‘pretty’ operation ‘uglies’ undergo at sixteen. It also address society’s views that somehow at the age of sixteen a child’s life drastically changes, or there is a huge shift in their place in the world, this is mirrored in the book when the new pretties move into new pretty town and live their lives around the never ending parties. And while this book was first published back in 2005, the issues Westerfeld address are still very relevant today.

The book does have its fantasy elements. Set in a futuristic or alternate setting, the book embraces the concepts outside of the bounds of current consensus reality, like complete body surgeries that change everything ‘ugly’ about a person, as well as hover boards and brain lesions that change your personality.

This is also book one in the series and while I have read and re-read the series many time, Uglies will still always have a special place in my heart and I’m sure in yours too.

All in all Uglies is a book about the present, set in a futuristic world, teaching people that ‘what you do, the way you think, makes you beautiful’ (p. 264)

4.5 starts out of 5


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