Extras by Scott Westerfeld

(Cover picture courtesy of Fantastic Fiction.)

A few years after rebel Tally Youngblood takes down the Specials regime, a cultural renaissance sweeps the world.  “Tech-heads” flaunt their latest gadgets, “kickers” spread gossip and trends, and “surge monkeys” are hooked on extreme plastic surgery.  Popularity rules, and everyone craves fame.

Fifteen-year-old Aya Fuse is no exception.  But Aya’s face rank is so low, she’s a total nobody.  An extra.  Her only chance at stardom is to kick a wild and unexpected story.

Then she stumbles upon a big secret.  Aya knows she is on the cusp of celebrity.  But the information she is about to disclose will change both her fate…and that of a brave new world.

If you’ve read the first three books in the Uglies trilogy (which was turned into a series with the release of this book), you will get so much more enjoyment out of Extras.  You’ll be able to see just how different Tally’s world has become and yet how much it is like our own world.  In Aya’s world, popularity rules.  The more popular you are, the more credits you get and the better your life is.  But anyone who is not popular—which is most of the population—is an extra, a nobody.  Does this remind anyone of high school?

What really stands out in Extras (for me at least) is the explosion of new technologies since Specials.  Since practically no one over 16 is a bubblehead anymore, intelligence has been allowed to flourish and Scott Westerfeld describes the new advances in spectacular detail.  With all of that new technology and freedom, “surges”—or surgeries—have also become popular, especially the extreme kind.  It is a credit to Scott Westerfeld’s world-building abilities that he includes all kinds of people who change their bodies to create their idea of ‘true beauty.’  I find it fascinating what people choose to look like in Aya’s world since they are allowed to change themselves into whoever they want.

As usual, Scott Westerfled’s characterization is spot-on.  Many readers will sympathize with Aya because she is the voice of teenage insecurity.  Surrounded by beautiful people and being nothing more than an unimportant, faceless extra has really taken its toll on her.  As a result, many teenagers will sympathize with her insecurities and will cheer her on as the plot speeds along.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

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    • Carrie Slager

      For all the reasons I stated above in my review: teenagers will see our own society mirrored in Aya’s world and can apply the lessons they learn from Extras to real life, Scott Westerfeld is an excellent writer and fans of the Uglies series will see how the world has changed for the better (and worse). If you’ve already read Uglies, Pretties and Specials, Extras is really quite enjoyable.

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