Uglies (Uglies #1) by Scott Westerfeld

Released: February 8, 2005
Medium: Paperback (Nonstandard size)
Pages: 425
Publisher: Simon Pulse
ISBN-13: 978-0-689-86539-1
ISBN-10: 0-689-86538-4

Uglies has been sitting in my TBR pile for a while. Too long, I’m afraid, since I found the receipt inside the book, telling me I bought it a couple years ago. I’m thoroughly ashamed it’s taken me this long to read it because I ended up reading the whole book in one sitting, when I should have been sleeping.

Scott Westerfeld has created a really interesting world in Uglies. Set in our future, the world is divided, socially and physically, into Uglies and Pretties. Everyone starts off Ugly, living in state-controlled dorms in Uglyville. At 16, however, people get an operation that makes them Pretty – absolutely gorgeous, uniform, and superficial for the most part. Our young heroine, Tally, is on the cusp of her sixteenth birthday and desperate to become Pretty when she meets Shay, a girl who wants to run away and stay Ugly. Shay does manage to get away and the authorities send Tally after her, in an effort to track down the outsiders. While she’s with them, Tally starts to see that being Pretty might not be the answer to all her troubles after all, and is forced to make some big decisions.

I absolutely adored this book. I read it in one sitting because I just couldn’t bear to put it down. Scott Westerfeld has created a really interesting world, built out of the ruins of what I assume is modern society. The idea that you’re Ugly until you turn 16, and then you’re completely rebuilt, from the genes up, to become Pretty and join society as another impossibly beautiful, vacuous partygoer.

I really admire the risks the author takes in Uglies. Things are no holds barred, with lots of dramatic action and daring choices. There are consequences to Tally’s choices and Scott Westerfeld doesn’t sugarcoat them. There are also some great, well-developed characters, particularly Shay and some of the smaller roles, like David’s parents. I also enjoyed how the truth about New Pretty Town was revealed over the course of the novel, setting things up quite nicely for the sequel, Pretties, which I hope to read soon.

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