Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Uglies Review

Hey everyone, this is my 100th post. I first started this blog on New Year's Eve of 2011 and have been faithfully reviewing every book I've read ever since. Sometimes I've grumbled a bit about doing it and have wished I never started because seriously, what have I gotten myself into? How long will I have to do this? Will I ever just read a book and not have to write something about it after? But I've been pleasantly surprised to see that people have read all of my posts. Sometimes a lot of people. I don't know who is out there reading, but thanks. And a special thanks go to family and friends and facebook acquaintances who casually mention that they read my blog or browse through posts when they are looking for a new book to read or that they love reading what I write. That's why I've kept this up. I honestly don't know if I'll do this for forever but for now, I'll continue. And I hope I keep reviewing books that people find interesting and that I can pass on good recommendations.

So anyway, after the disaster that was Defending Jacob, I was so unsettled and annoyed that I was a little stuck on what to read next. I browsed through all the books on my kindle but I was in the mood for something specific: nothing historical. No horror or thrillers. I'm even getting a little sick of the dystopian genre, so I discarded Delirium, which people are loving. Actually what I REALLY wanted to read was the newest Sophie Kinsella book. Why is it not out yet?

Anyway, I ended up going dystopia after all with The Uglies. One of my students was reading it for my dystopian lit class and it sounded a little like Libba Bray's Beauty Queens. Unfortunately it wasn't as entertaining.

The Uglies follows a post-disaster US where the "Rusties" (our generation) were so wasteful and awful that a new civilization developed. The country is divided up into small, self-sustaining, environmentally friendly cities. Since looks were constantly fought about in the Rusty world, in this new society, every teen at the age of 16 undergoes an insane operation to make them stunningly beautiful - but pretty much everyone fits into the same sort of mold so there are no differences between people; everyone is gorgeous. The Uglies are younger teens (12-16) who undergo the typical pains of adolescence. Most Uglies are dying to be Pretties, so they can go live in New Pretty Town (doesn't this sound like Barbie's world?!) and party all the time. Pretties tend to be self-involved teens who care about nothing but pleasure - drinking, parties, etc.

Tally Youngblood is one of the last Uglies from her age group as she has a late birthday. She spends the summer waiting for her operation, even sneaking out to New Pretty Town to meet up with her former best friend Peris, who has become Pretty and wants her to behave herself so she can meet up with him post-operation. She observes that most Pretties seem to exhibit a personality change after the operation but that is typically attributed to "growing up".

Tally is befriended by Shay, another Ugly who shares the same birthday. However, Shay isn't looking forward to the operation. She has made contact with a group of Uglies who live in the mountains (a place called the Smoke) and wants to flee there with Tally rather than be surgically altered. Tally really isn't crazy about that idea. After all, she's only ever wanted to be Pretty.

However, due to circumstances beyond her control, Tally is denied her operation until she helps Special Circumstances, a group of specially altered Pretties find the Smoke. She sets off to find the rebel Uglies against her will but of course once she is out there, she starts to see beyond the Pretty surgery. She learns the value of hard work and falls for a guy named David. All of that happens in about two chapters (maybe a bit more, but it was still very fast) but apparently it changed her whole outlook. When she accidentally brings Special Circumstances to the Smoke, she and David set out to free their friends.

I was turned off by the phrase "Pretties" here. It just seemed to vapid and ridiculous - but that's the point. The Pretties are supposed to be pretty but also mindless and stupid. I think there was a little too much time spent on world building and too little time spent on plot. I'm not sure if I'll read the other books in the series - at least not yet. I need a serious break from dystopia but two of my eighth graders loved the series and highly recommended it - although explained that it was more of a girl's book than anything else. I would definitely agree with that. It's ok but definitely not very action packed or exciting. Or remotely intelligent like The Giver series. It's just another YA dystopian novel. But if that's what you're into right now, it's an easy read.

Author Website

Uglies Book Trailer

Buy it at amazon and Barnes & Noble

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