Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Well, what do you know? - A book review!

Some of you may recall that I received Specials by Scott Westerfeld for my birthday. Here's the pic to prove it:

Well, I've read it, and I'm sure that you're dying to know what I thought of it!

Firstly, you should know that Specials is the third book of a trilogy. The first is Uglies (you can read my thoughts here) and the second is Pretties (review here).

As Specials opens, we find out that Tally has been subjected to an operation without her consent to turn her into an agent of 'Special Circumstances', the military officers of her city. Gone is her pretty face and body, having been replaced with cruel, sharp features and weapon-like physiology.

Tally's mind has been tampered with too; her senses have been sharpened and she sees everything with absolute clarity. Now she realises that 'specials' like her are the only thing standing between her city and anarchy. The citizens need her and her fellow 'Cutters' to keep them safe, secure, and under control. In effect, Tally has become everything that she used to fight against.

I highly recommend this series to teens, both boys and girls, from ages 10 - 15, depending on maturity. Westerfeld has managed to address tricky themes while maintaining an authentic teenage viewpoint, telling the stories through Tally's 16-year-old eyes.

For me, I enjoyed the books, but liked the first one (Uglies) best, and each sequel a little bit less. I'm not sure that Westerfeld really had much more to say after Uglies, in terms of the issues that he was exploring. While the plot resolved nicely, I would have appreciated a deeper look at the issues of individuality, freedom of thought, and the balance of individual freedoms with the good of the whole that he introduced.

I think these books are a good conversation starter; a beginning point. I hope that my kids will read and enjoy them. I think that they could be used successfully in the classroom, and that they'd be an excellent addition to a school or class library.

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