Published: February 8th 2005
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Details: Paperback, 425 pages
My grade: 4/5
Great series set in an distopian future that makes you think about the way things are in our society. Very fast-paced and action-packed. There won’t be a dull moment. With a love story as well, all though it’s not the main focus of the story. Highly addictive read!
See my full review here:
Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license — for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.
But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. 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 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.
Uglies is the first book in the Uglies Trilogy. At first, when I started reading it, I thought it was just a light and fun read; a page turner yet not something I’d lose sleep over, a 3 out of 5. But as I read more, I found myself getting more and more invested in the characters. By the time it finished (and it finishes with a cliff hanger) I literally threw myself at the next book Pretties, thankful I had already acquired it. So it does get better!
The book starts with the young heroine, 15-year old Tally, who is an “ugly”. She has been left alone in “Ugly town” since her slightly older best friend Peris, has moved to the “Pretty town” (for his 16th birthday) to have his operation. In this dystopian future, Tally lives in a society in which everyone has major surgery on their 16th birthday, to become supermodel gorgeous. Before the operation, as a normal person, you are thought of as ugly, and thus every teenager longs for the day of the operation. So does Tally.
Things change though when Tally cross paths with Shay, a girl who has opinions on the society in which they live, not completely accepting it. When Shay runs away just before her 16th birthday to escape the operation, the authorities force Tally to choose between staying ugly for life or to find and bring back her friend.
Tally decides to go after Shay, and well, that is essentially where the adventure begins. I won’t say too much, as there are so many surprising twists and turns in this book, it is best knowing as little as possible.
There were a couple of things that I really liked about the book. Firstly, the plot of the story makes you think about the way things are in our society. Not only about our obsession with beauty and what price is worth paying for it, but it also makes you reflect on the environmental issues of our world. In the book, our society is constantly referred to, as the utterly stupid society who lived in such an unsustainable way that it nearly extinguished the world. This truly makes you think about how we live our life. One example is when someone tries to explain to Tally what “newspapers” used to be in our society; essentially books printed for a one-day-use to be thrown away the day after. All those trees wasted for a one day read. How utterly stupid and wasteful, Tally reflects. And I can’t but agree.
I also liked how Tally, the main character grows throughout the book, as in the rest of the series. She starts off as a quite immature girl, completely unaware of the effect her society has had on her, but gradually becomes stronger and also more likable.
There is romance, but it’s not the focus of the story. Actually, that happened very quickly, I did not even see it coming (and I’m usually good at spotting those things). Consequently, it’s not something to swoon for, and never really made my heart racing. Still, it’s kind of nice that it’s happening. It sort of adds to the story rather than makes the story if you know what I mean.
Finally what I liked about this book is how you gradually get to know more and more about the society they live in, as Westerfeld reveals secrets throughout the book. He keeps you on the edge, revealing bits and pieces here and there, but always leaving things out, so that you are wishing for more, and keep turning pages.
Uglies does not feel like a stand-alone book, and as I mentioned before, you will most likely want to keep reading the next two when it is finished. It kind of draws you in gradually. Starting light and easy and then before you know it you will be hooked. If you like books like The Host and Hunger games, I’m pretty sure you will like this series as well.