Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Narrated by Carine Montbertrand
12 hours and 19 minutes
Published 2006 by Recorded Books (first published February 8th 2005)
1st in a series of 4 books
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.
My thoughts: This was a dystopian, taking place in a world where everyone was ‘Pretty.’ Becoming pretty was as simple as a medical procedure immediately after a sixteenth birthday. Until then, everyone was an Ugly, no matter what they looked like. When Tally’s new friend Shay ran away to The Smoke, Tally had to track her down and turn her in or she would have ended up Ugly for life. I found the plot to be unique and thought Westerfield presented it in an interesting way. He made it seem like this was a normal way of life for these people, not just some weird science experiment.
The dialogue was different, though not hard to follow. There was a lot of invented slang (i.e. crumblies, middles, littlies) and futuristic things (i.e. hoverboards and bungee jackets) but the basics were easy to get. The kids didn’t have much respect for the authority figures in their lives and it showed in the way they spoke. The characters weren’t remarkable or even unlikable. They were just…average. Tally was desperate to become Pretty and I found her level of commitment to having the procedure a little over the top. Although, in a world where this was simply the norm, that made sense. Shay and Peris were underutilized, I thought. I never really learned much about Shay or why she chose to join The Smoke. Peris was almost a noncharacter and I didn’t understand why Tally wanted to join him so very badly. I thought David was the most complete character in the book, and he was also my favorite.
There was a bit of romance and I thought it was realistic and sweet. There were lots of adventures and plenty of action, mostly after Shay disappeared and Tally set off to find her. The trigger that led to the final battle was so predictable, I didn’t appreciate that. As soon as it happened, I thought “Well, that was stupid. That’s going to end badly.”
I liked the narrator okay. Her voice was slightly grainy sounding, but I got used to it quickly. I liked that she didn’t try too hard to make the male voices sound low. Sometimes that can really backfire but she just lowered her pitch a tiny bit and I thought it was perfect.
The cover is fairly unremarkable, not giving away anything or hinting at what the book could be about.
The sum up: I really enjoyed this imaginative look at where our idea of beauty could lead us and will definitely be picking up the sequel.