Sunday, April 10, 2016

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

I don’t want to say that this is just another YA dystopian novel with a female main character. In a way, of course, it is. And after reading the Divergent series and the Hunger Games series, I was a little hesitant to read another of this type of novel. But, in some important ways, it is more than just another YA dystopian novel with a female lead.

There were many things that Westerfeld, the author, did that I appreciated. For one, he clearly states what it was that led to the collapse of the previous civilization (ours). I thought it was pretty clever and maybe a little too likely to be thought up by someone in the real world.

The premise of the society that evolved from that collapse seemed thin at first. That at 16 everybody was given an operation to make them, “Pretty.” The Pretties were beautiful, but vapid. The sense that she lost her best friend, Peris, after he became Pretty was the first hint of trouble in Paradise. But as the novel continued, there proved to be more layers to this new order that were even hinted at originally. Slowly the layers were peeled away as the truth started to emerge.

The way that this society seemed so perfect to the main character, Tally, made me wonder what could cause some people to reject it and choose to live on their own and reject becoming Pretty. To Tally the thought of remaining an “Ugly” was a major motivation to many of her actions. And what exactly about people rejecting being Pretty made it such an existential threat to the people who ran the society, the Specials? All these people apparently wanted was to be left alone.

It is a pretty interesting read. The end setting up the next book in the trilogy. I now need to put Pretties on my to read list.

I’d recommend this book. It is different enough from the other dystopias to make it distinct. And the questions it raises are good ones. I’ll look for a copy to put in my classroom library.

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