“In a world of extreme beauty, anyone normal is ugly.”
Tally Youngblood has been waiting her entire life to turn sixteen so that she could get the operation that would turn her pretty. Her best friend turned pretty three months ago and she promised him that she would join him soon and they would spend every day partying in New Pretty Town. While she’s spending her last three months in Uglyville, she becomes friends with Shay, a girl who shares her birthday but does not share her desire to become pretty. Shay tells her of The Smoke, a town full of uglies who do not want to turn pretty. Rather than getting the pretty operation, Shay decides to escape and find The Smoke. Once the officials over at Special Circumstances find out what she has done, they give Tally a choice: go after Shay and lead them to her, or remain an ugly for life.
This is another one of those books I’ve had on my to be read list forever. I finally got around to reading it and I really enjoyed it! The way that beauty is perceived in the world of Uglies is really disturbing; anyone who has not yet undergone the operation to become pretty is considered ugly, regardless of how they look. The operation literally grinds bones and manipulates facial features to make a person’s face into specific dimensions that are considered “pretty”. They even make people taller or shorter, and fatter or thinner, so that everyone is the same height, weight, and has the same sort of facial features.
At first Tally was kind of annoying because all she was concerned about was becoming pretty, but then I realized this was because she had been brainwashed her entire life into thinking that she was ugly. She was willing to betray her friend Shay in order to get her operation, even after what Special Circumstances put her through. Once she finds The Smoke and realizes that the pretty world isn’t exactly what she thought it was, she finds it much harder to stick to the plan and betray her friend and everyone residing in The Smoke. Especially after she develops feelings for David, a boy who was born and raised in The Smoke and tells her she is beautiful without the operation.
My favorite part of this book was when Tally looked at a magazine from centuries before and saw an underwear model and remarked on how the model is terrifyingly thin. She wondered why people would starve themselves like that and can’t believe anyone could find that attractive. It was an obvious dig on today’s culture and how the media today makes us all feel that we need to starve ourselves in order to be beautiful. I was glad that this little bit was in there because it’s important for people to realize that it is not healthy to look like that, and it is certainly not attractive. High five, Westerfeld!
Overall, this was an excellent book full of adventure, romance, and hoverboards! Hoverboards are definitely one of the coolest ways to get around–kind of like surfing but in midair. Uglies had an ending that definitely left me wanting more, so I am looking forward to reading the next book!
Uglies was released March 1, 2005 and is the first in a series. The subsequent books in the series–Pretties, Specials, and Extras–are all available now. Uglies is also supposedly being made into a film!