Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

(Cover picture courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous.  What could be wrong with that?

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.

Tally is a character that many young teens can identify with.  She just wants to fit in, be with her friend Paris and otherwise live a happy, normal life without drama.  But everything changes when she meets Shay, a spunky rule-breaker who doesn’t want to fit in and turn pretty.  In the beginning, Tally’s world seems great until Shay points out that the authorities manipulate people into thinking they’re worthless so they conform and want to turn pretty.

Uglies is one of those novels that truly deserves to be among the YA greats.  Like Harry Potter, it has many different messages and means something different to each reader.  On one hand, it is a commentary on our society’s obsession with beauty, but on the other hand, it is a tale of love and friendship.  It’s also a dystopian science fiction novel with many elements that will be familiar to YA readers: a love triangle, a long and dangerous journey, the realization that not everything was as good as it seemed and a tough choice that sets the gears of change in motion.

Uglies is a well-written book that explores many issues teens (especially younger teens) face every day.  It is a book that makes you think and I highly recommend it to people ages 12+ who love to question the status quo.  Scott Westerfeld really has written one of the great novels of our generation.

I give this book 4.5/5 stars.

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