I read and greatly enjoyed the book Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. This story was written in 2005 and published by Scholastic Inc. It is classified in the fantasy genre and has 425 pages. Uglies is a “survival” story that portrays the bravery of a small group of teenagers who don’t want to be like everyone else. This group of teens takes many life or death chances…or in this case, chances that will change how they look and feel forever. This fantasy novel keeps moving, is sort of weird, and is full of unique events.
The story begins in Uglyville with Tally Youngblood sitting in her “dorm room” looking across the river at New Pretty Town. She is thinking about her best friend Peris, now separated because Peris is sixteen and turned Pretty, and Tally is still Ugly. When night falls and all of Uglyville is asleep, the parties in New Pretty Town are just beginning. Tally decides to sneak into New Pretty Town to find Peris. Although she finds him, she is a little out of place. The safety wardens are looking for Tally, and she is deathly afraid. She bumps into an unknown figure and to her surprise, it is another Ugly – Shay! They safely return to Uglyville and soon become best friends.
Shay convinces Tally to go outside of Uglyville, for the first time, to the old town of Rusty Ruins. They fly there on hoverboards which was new for Tally. At the Ruins, they have a blast riding an old roller coaster on their hoverboards!
A few days before their operation to turn Pretty, Shay tells Tally she is running away to a distant place called Smoke. Shay wants Tally to go with her, but Tally really wants to turn Pretty so she can be with Peris. Shay runs away from Uglyville, leaving Tally with directions to Smoke, in case she changes her mind.
The next day, Tally is on her way to have the operation, when Special Circumstances stop her. She is questioned about Shay and threatened that she cannot turn Pretty until she talks. Apparently, many Uglies had run away to Smoke. Tally decides to tell Dr. Cable everything. She is then told she has to go find Shay in Smoke before she can become Pretty. Tally leaves with a pendant tracking device and a survival kit. During her many days alone in the wilderness, she escapes fires, bathes in a cold river, and has to conserve food.
Tally finally reaches the meeting point given to her in the directions. She sees Shay and the other Uglies walking toward her, and they continue on to Smoke. As soon as Tally arrives in Smoke, she is supposed to push the tracking pendant. She does not! Tally falls in love with Smoke and with David the camp leader. She throws the pendant into the fire.
Special Circumstances arrive in Smoke and capture everyone except David. Tally escapes and finds David in a cave. They decide to go back to Uglyville to rescue the rest of the Smokies. They enter a building and find all the others. When they try to leave, Special Circumstances is right there. Does everyone escape and live Ugly in a different Smoke location? Does Tally turn Pretty?
Uglies is an exciting book that left me wishing David and Tally had stayed in Smoke. I think the author used great symbolism to make the story more vivid. For example, he writes, “The sun setting over the ocean turned the water bloodred.” Throughout this book, Westerfeld wove the story line around the main character, Tally. I thought it was interesting the way the author changed relationships among the characters. For example, in the beginning, Tally’s best friend was Peris; then she was best friends with Shay; and at the end of the book, Tally falls in love with David. Even though Uglies is in the fantasy genre, I loved that Westerfeld incorporated real teenage “conflicts” throughout the book dealing with appearance, emotions, peer pressure, trying to fit in, and rebellion.
In conclusion, Uglies is unlike any other fantasy book that I’ve previously read. I liked it better than the Harry Potter series. The ending of the book does not really “end” the story, but rather implies there is more to the tale. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Pretties.