30 Days of Books – Day 9 – Book You Thought You Wouldn’t Like but Ended up Loving

Three days to catch up! What a slacker I’ve been.I guess I will do my penance in the form of three separate 30 Days entries and an ALL NEW regular blog entry. Now you know what you’re doing with your Friday night.

Day 9 – A book I thought I wouldn’t like but ended up loving.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

What follows is the review I wrote right after reading both Uglies and Pretties six years ago:

I remember when I was first considering buying the book Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, I was disinclined to purchase it. I thought the title was stupid and the book would get preachy, with a warmed-over, tweaked, brave-new-world feel. I bought it because I couldn’t find anything better that I hadn’t read. I was pleasantly surprised. While I found his characters shallow at first, the book sucked me in until I couldn’t put it down.

Then the long wait for Pretties began. I checked Amazon regularly and ran out to buy it as soon as it hit the shelves, and I read the whole thing the night I bought it. It’s not quite as exciting as Uglies, because all the really big revelations have already been unveiled. I liked the characters a lot better this time around. Their dialogue felt a lot more believable. There are some pretty thrilling close-shaves and a few plans that don’t go perfectly, which is refreshing and real.

Westerfeld uses this book to explore the other side of his characters’ world a bit, not as much why they rebel, but a lot of why the powers that be made the world that way in the first place. I find the Pretties’ lifestyle a lot more boring than the Smokies’, but I now see that Westerfeld’s characters in the first book were so shallow because they had to be. In the world they lived in, there was nothing to encourage depth. Westerfeld has turned out to be a much better writer than I originally thought.

I’m bursting to say more but I don’t want to ruin it for people still reading. Just know that this book provided an incredible setup for the last book, Specials.

I’d recommend it to anyone who likes a good sci-fi story, or a story where kids actually accomplish things.

Not only does this review highlight the importance of editing and revision, it still holds true now that I’ve read the entire trilogy and its companion novel, Extras.

For the unfamiliar, the Uglies series follows fifteen-year-old Tally Youngblood, citizen of a society in which everyone receives full-body plastic surgery at sixteen to make them “Pretty”. Tally is the last of her group of friends to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait for the operation. She divides her days between designing fantasy faces for herself on the computer and trying to sneak into New Pretty Town to see her best friend Peris. It is during just such an expedition that Tally meets Shay, another “tricky” teen on the eve of her operation, but one not so sure that she wants to become “Pretty”.

From Shay, Tally learns both how to hoverboard and of the existence of a rebel group living in the wilderness: the “Smokies”. When Shay runs away the night before her operation, it falls to Tally to betray her or remain Ugly forever.

It’s a solid series that continues to get better up until its conclusion. Tally is an extremely human heroine, as shallow and petty as she can be courageous. Shay is a sassy, oft-misunderstood character, so misunderstood that she is getting her own graphic novel this year to relate the events of Uglies from her perspective. It might not look like much at first blush, but Uglies is definitely worth a read.

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