sci-fi month

[Sci Fi Month] Series Reflection: Uglies (Scott Westerfeld)

Everybody 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 a 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 friend 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…

Series stats
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Number of books: 4
Total number of pages: 1596

Opening line:

The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit.

Status on my shelves:

I own this whole series.  This was one of (if not the), first dystopian series I picked up and I loved it from the beginning.  It was a long time before I learnt more about dystopians or even went back to the genre, but even now, ten years or so later, this remains one of my favourite sci-fi series, despite some flaws.

Image from Goodreads

Why I picked this series up:

Firstly, I should mention that I have the really old editions of these, like the one above, and I was drawn to the cover instantly.  I’ve always been drawn to simpler covers, and the neon colours stood out brilliantly against the standard black and other dark colours that were dominating my fantasy-laden shelves.  I picked Uglies up from a Waterstones shelf on a whim one day, expecting it to be a cliche ‘girly teenager’ book, about eating disorders book, or a girl trying to fit in and coping with the pressure to be pretty etc.  What I actually picked up was nothing like that!  The blurb drew me in instantly – how could you resist a blurb like that?

Why I liked it:

Scott Westerfeld has taken a societal pressure we see examples of every day (beauty) and given it a novel and dramatic twist, creating a premise that’s completely unique whilst still being believable.

I didn’t necessarily love the characters, though I thought they were all interesting and likeable.  I really enjoyed how the characters Westerfeld had created fitted in with the storyline and world he’d built.  Tally’s eagerness to become Pretty never felt forced, because for her surgery to become Pretty is just the way things work in her world.  I also felt the characters developed really well, growing and becoming more and more easy to like as the series continued.

Uglies is a really easy read. The writing just sucks you in, and although the plot pacing isn’t always racing, the ease of reading does go a long way to balancing it out, because it’ll never take you long to get to a more dramatic scene!

The romance in Uglies is not overwhelming, a comfortable addition to the story rather than a dominating feature, which makes a refreshing change!  Similarly, although there is romance, Tally and Shay’s friendship also plays a huge role in the series, and it’s nice to see some non-romantic relationships also getting plot-time.

One more thing:

For me personally, Extras (the final book of the series) was a bit of a let down.  It was okay, but I didn’t think it lived up to the rest of the series.  Since this was originally a trilogy, I wouldn’t stress about reading it!

5 thoughts on “[Sci Fi Month] Series Reflection: Uglies (Scott Westerfeld)

  1. I remember borrowing these books from the library years ago, and I guess they were some of the first dystopians I read, without even realising what the genre was.

    I don’t actually remember much about the books, but I DO remember that Extras annoyed me – and it seems you felt the same way!

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