Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

(Cover picture courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Tally has finally become pretty.  Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot and she’s completely popular.  It’s everything she’s ever wanted.

But beneath all the fun—the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom—is a nagging sense that something’s wrong.  Something important.  Then a message from Tally’s ugly past arrives.  Reading it, Tally remembers what’s wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold.

Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life—because the au authorities don’t intend to let anyone with this information survive.

When I first read Pretties, I was infuriated by all the slang the pretties used.  But on a second read through, I realized that it demonstrates Tally’s drastic transformation from who she was in Uglies.  The slang also shows how vapid pretties are and how much the surgery really affects their minds, instead of only their bodies.

Pretties follows Tally and her new boyfriend Zane as they try to defeat the brain lesions that impair their judgment, coordination and memory.  They try all manner of things to stay ‘bubbly’ and it seems like the two pills from Tally’s fugitive friends in the New Smoke are working.  But tensions rise as Tally pushes away her old friend Shay and the authorities start to catch on to what Zane and Tally are up to.  Tally makes some hard decisions and old friends turn into enemies in the second book of the Uglies trilogy.

I read this book when I was twelve and it really struck a chord with me.  Everyone at school was telling me I was ugly (either directly or indirectly) and Pretties gave me a bit more confidence in myself, if only for a short while.  It taught me that being pretty isn’t everything and that the pursuit of perfection often leads to ruin.  That’s why I recommend this book for tweens and younger teens, especially those with self-esteem problems.  Scott Westerfeld deserves to be among the YA greats and the unflinching way he confronts self-esteem issues is inspiring.

I give this book 4.5/5 stars.

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