Author: Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Date: February 8, 2005
This novel is set in the future where children are altered upon their sixteenth birthday to become pretty. All of their imperfections and blemishes are erased and they live in a society where everyone is a mirror image of beauty and the younger children who are deemed as the uglies are kept away.
The story is told through Tally Youngblood’s views and how she is longing to become pretty when she turns sixteen and to live with her best friend Peris in Pretty Town! Tally is forced to come to the harsh realization of her society’s evil intentions when she is blackmailed by Dr. Cable to find out where her friend Shay has gone. Tally knows Shay has run away to the rebellion town called Smoke. In Smoke you are accepted as you are…non-pretty. Tally is forced to make difficult decisions that will affect the lives of many innocent people and her love interest David.
Westerfeld created a mind-blowing science fiction novel that sci-fi fans will enjoy! You connect with the characters in the story. Tally’s character is very believable and strong. The setting is in a futuristic world and you will even have the benefit of hover boarding throughout the novel. This world seems very pretty but you find out fast that beauty is only skin deep. The government of this society implants mind altering lesions on the pretties in order to control the Pretty Town society. You will be introduced to the “Specials” in this book which are “Pretties” gone extreme. Specials have been altered to have super human strength to carry out the law enforcement in this futuristic society. I really liked the theme of looks are not everything. Jennifer Mattson of Booklist wrote, “Teens will sink their teeth into the provocative questions about invasive technology, image-obsessed society, and the ethical quandaries of a mole-turned-ally” (Booklist, Mar. 15, 2005 (Vol. 101, No. 14)).
Fans will eagerly want to read the rest of the books in this series to see what will happen next!
Carlee Hallman (Children's Literature):
"In this sci-fi allegory, normal-looking people are called 'uglies.' Tally looks forward to her 16th birthday, after which she can have the operation which will make her a 'pretty.' Her boyfriend had the operation a short time before which allows him to live in another city where only pretties can live and where pretties party from morning till night. Then Tally meets a girlfriend who is looking for another life-style. As Tally follows this friend to an outpost of rugged outdoor living, she begins to see things differently and learns a disturbing truth about the 'pretty' operation. A new boyfriend adds interest. Which lifestyle Tally will choose and which side she will betray, is not completely clear at the end of the book which leads to a sequel. Surprising plot twists and dangerous circumstances keep the reader guessing. 2005, Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, $6.99. Ages 12 to 16" Retrieved from the Children's Literature Database (accessed on October 25, 2009).
Jennifer Mattson (Booklist, Mar. 15, 2005 (Vol. 101, No. 14)):
"Fifteen-year-old Tally's eerily harmonious, postapocalyptic society gives extreme makeovers to teens on their sixteenth birthdays, supposedly conferring equivalent evolutionary advantages to all. When a top-secret agency threatens to leave Tally ugly forever unless she spies on runaway teens, she agrees to infiltrate the Smoke, a shadowy colony of refugees from the "tyranny of physical perfection." At first baffled and revolted by the rebels' choices, Tally eventually bonds with one of their leaders and begins to question the validity of institutionalized mutilation--especially as it becomes clear that the government's surgeons may be doing more than cosmetic nipping and tucking. Although the narrative's brisk pace is more successful in scenes of hover-boarding action than in convincingly developing Tally's key relationships, teens will sink their teeth into the provocative questions about invasive technology, image-obsessed society, and the ethical quandaries of a mole-turned-ally. These elements, along with the obvious connections to reality programs such as Miami Slice, will surely cause this ingenious series debut to cement Westerfeld's reputation for high-concept YA fiction that has wide appeal. Suggest M. T. Anderson's Feed (2002) and Westerfeld's own So Yesterday (2004) to readers antsy for the next installment. Category: Books for Older Readers--Fiction. 2005, Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, $6.99. Gr. 7-10. Starred Review" Retrieved from the Children's Literature Database (accessed on October 25, 2009).
Florida Teen Read, 2008.
Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award, 2007.
Hal Clement Award, 2006.
I found a great website that offered discussion questions booktalk for this book. You can access this website by clicking on: http://www.multcolib.org/talk/guides-uglies.html (accessed October 25, 2009).
Other books that may be of interest:
Pretties. By Scott Westerfeld. Publisher: Simon Pulse. Date: 2005. ISBN: 9780689865398.
Specials. By Scott Westerfeld. Publisher: Simon Pulse. Date 2006. ISBN: 9780689865404.
Extras. By Scott Westerfeld. Publisher: Simon Pulse. Date: 2007. ISBN: 9781416951179.