“Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license – for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.
But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. 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 the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.”
This is the first book in Scott Westerfeld’s 2005 series (4 books in total: Uglies, Pretties, Species, Extras). Don’t let the 425 pages scare you, it is a quick read – both gripping and easy to understand. It’s probably too cliche or young for upper high school, especially if you’ve read a bit of dystopian fiction in the past, but it is a thrilling introduction to the genre. If you didn’t like The Giver, give this series a try. It’s got danger, action, intrigue and of course, love. Westerfeld’s dystopian society, where everyone is ‘pretty’ provides for discussion on some important and poignant issues; self-image, true beauty, loyalty, friendship, integrity, corruption and oppression, and what it really means to ‘grow up.’
Great fast paced book for younger readers. Recommended for ages 11 – 14. 4 stars.