Saturday, May 15, 2010

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.

Bought with a gift card that I received for Mothers Day.

***** "Must read!"

From the back cover: "Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. In just a few weeks she'll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunning pretty, she'll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun. But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to become a pretty. 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 a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally's choice will change her world forever..."

Wow, it was a hard decision to choose a book to buy with my Mothers Day gift card! I agonised over the choice, but I'm glad I decided to go with Uglies. I really enjoyed it, and now I know that I have Pretties, Specials and Extras to read! Also, I've recommended it to my 12-year-old daughter Alana, and I'm sure that it will create many opportunities for discussion between us.

Uglies has a sci-fi element to it. It is set in the (near?) future, where scientific advances have allowed fully-recyclable cities to be self-sufficient and not put any strain on the environment. Within these cities, children learn about the "Rusties", a former civilisation that damaged the environment so much that made themselves extinct. The Rusties were a war-like people, where injustice abounded. Sound familiar?

Through social engineering, the world of Uglies has manage to eliminate all forms of injustice, right down to the fact that all sixteen-year-olds undergo an operation that renders them uniformly beautiful.

Tally is the youngest of her friends, left lonely in Uglyville awaiting her sixteenth birthday, when she will move to New Pretty Town and be reunited with them. But in her last few weeks of ugliness, everything she thought she knew is turned upside-down when she meets Shay. Shay shares a birthday with Tally, so is due to turn pretty on the same day, but she has some serious reservations about the operation. It seems to her that uglies look ok just as they are, and she's disturbed by the fact that all new "pretties" seem vacuous and boring. She has heard of a place that uglies run away to and never turn pretty, and she wants to go. 

I think that this book would be a great addition to a reading list or English curriculum for secondary students. It raises very important issues about body image, equality versus uniformity, and social engineering undertaken by "the powers that be".

I recommend this to anyone that enjoys young adult fiction and/or sci-fi, to teenage girls, and to the parents of teenage girls. I'm hoping that it will start a number of interesting conversations between me and Alana. One of the most important things for parents is to find "teachable moments" - opportunities to grasp as they arise to discuss important issues with our children. I think this book could open up quite a few of these moments.

Highly recommended.


A Buckeye Girl Reads said...

I enjoyed this one! This would be a great opener for conversations with teens-it brings up so many different issues that are relevant to high schoolers.

Louise said...

I also enjoyed this one, although not as much as I had thought I would. I am going to read the rest of the series and I look forward to that. But you are right, there is a lot of room for good discussions.

Brandy said...

I've seen these books several times and just haven't found a reason to buy them. But i'm adding them to the read list now. thanks for the review