Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of Uglies until Morgan wrote about it, but her review made me keen to read it. Uglies is a 2005 dystopian novel by Scott Westerfeld set in a future world in which everyone is turned into a ‘Pretty’ by drastic cosmetic surgery when they turn sixteen. The novel focuses on teenager Tally Youngblood who defies her society’s forced conformity after new found friends Shay and David show her the downsides to becoming a Pretty.  Tally joins up with an alternative society of wilderness dwellers – the Smoke. The Smoke live off the land and refuse to become Pretties.

It is certainly an interesting concept and I can understand why readers are drawn into the story. When the Uglies transition they leave the dorms at Uglyville and move to New Pretty Town to be with the other new Pretties. To become a Pretty they get wider eyes, healthier skin, fuller lips – a very conventional view of beauty, biological really, as they are features that we instinctively look for in others.

As the book progresses Tally learns some unpleasant secrets about the social order she grew up with. Uglies deals with change, both emotional and physical, and also with the revelation, in the words of reviewer James Hynes, “some of what you’re taught isn’t true, your parents are flawed human beings and the world isn’t constructed for your benefit.”

Uglies is the first installment in The Uglies series which includes Pretties, Specials and Extras.

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