Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review: UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld

Everyone 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 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 friends 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. 

When I asked for book suggestions before I headed to the library, I was constantly recommended this book. I had seen it a few times in the library before and my young, prejudice self thought "It’s by a man. And I’m not sure about that title." I know that was horrible of me. But hey, I probably thought that when I was way younger. I never even bothered to read the description, which is even worse. So after I read the description, I didn’t even wait to go to the library. I put the whole series on hold.

Tally is probably like a lot of sixteen year olds in our present society. Insecure, completely waiting and wishing to grow up already, and doesn’t see a problem with doing what everyone else is doing. When everyone turns twelve, they leave their middle-pretty (basically pretties who are middle-aged) parents behind and are sent to dorms. Sixteen is the age everyone looks forward to. Sixteen is when they have an operation on their whole body to make themselves “perfect” which equals pretty. They become new-pretty. They describe the operation a couple times, each time sounding worse to me. Who wants that done? Not even celebrities would do that! They become perfect so that everyone will be equal.

Then one night, she meets Shay, someone who thinks different than anybody else Tally has ever known. She talks about running away, how being normal isn’t ugly, how being a pretty doesn’t seem great. Tally thinks she’s only talking, that she’ll forget about it on their shared sixteenth birthday and become pretty together. But then Shay does leave to a hidden city and leaves coded directions in case Tally ever wants to change her mind. That’s where the story truly begins.

Special Operations are people no one ever sees. But then they want Tally to go track this hidden city down for them or she won’t be pretty. After struggling with this decision, she goes ahead. She meets Shay’s friends and the mysterious David at the Smoke and is introduced to the rough life. After this, you really just need to read the book.

I had a difficult time with this book at first. You see, I was really frustrated with Tally. I felt more loyal to Shay, for thinking differently and really, the right way. Of course, I know they were all brought up this way. They were taught that this was for the greater good, to stop eating disorders and inequality. But all it really does is change the individuality of everyone and make them think they’re all ugly when in reality, they’re normal. However, I started to like Tally more. At times, I wanted to take control and change her decisions, but there wouldn’t be a book (at least, a good book) if Mr. Westerfeld changed anything.

Simon's attention is grabbed.
Speaking of Mr. Westerfeld, along with the great character development and plot, he was also interesting. “The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit.” Does anyone else go, “What? Wait, huh? Um, ew!” when they read this? Mr. Westerfeld opens the book like all authors should: with something that will grab my ATTENTION. I don’t know if it’s because I just have an impatience problem or always seem to have another book to read, but I start to get disgruntled if a book doesn’t open well. So note to authors: in your own way, no matter what, grab my attention. Make me want to keep reading. Doesn't have to be the first sentence, but if it’s just nonsense in the first couple of pages, you won’t have a very happy reader.

Every main character has to change at the end of the book, especially at the end of the series. Tally does. A couple others do as well, in fact. But the great thing is, is that I do too. I start it with certain expectations. I read it with certain opinions. Then at the end, it all changes. My feelings and thoughts weren’t the same. And that’s GREAT. I want to change. I want to finish and feel like I was part of the journey. I’m not saying it’s a shocking book and unpredictable. No. What I’m saying is that Mr. Westerfeld is an amazing author and created a really good book.

One expectation I started with did end up the same: the book was going to be really good. And it was. Worth it completely.

If you’ve read it, what did you think? Did you go on to read the sequels? Comment below!

Word to Parents: body issues and insecurities are one of the main themes.


  1. Ooh, I didn't know about this book. I think I'll check it out now. Your Simon gif made me chuckle.

    1. It's very good! A bit slow in the beginning and I didn't read the very last book due to Tally not being the main character. I hope you like it :)

      Thanks for coming by and commenting. Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. I think it's a good book but I don't really like Tally, aren't you ?
    She doesn't correspond to the definition of my favorite heroines.