Tally Youngblood is almost 16 and dying to have the operation that will turn her from ugly to pretty. She lives in Prettyville, a post-apocalyptic society, beauty is used to control the population, ensure compliance and reduce conflict. Tally's friend Shay doesn't want to be pretty and ultimately runs away.
On the day of her surgery, Tally is told that if she wants her operation, she must find Shay, who is hiding in "the Smoke." Tally decides to help the government and wears a pendant so that authorities will be able to find her when she is there. Tally meets with Shay and learns more about their way of life and what truly happens during the operation: the surgeons add lesions on people's brains to create control. While there, Tally meets and falls in love with David. In an act of defiance, Tally throws the pendant into the fire, but that action is enough for authorities to destroy the Smoke. Tally and David escape and return to the city to help rescue others. Like Shay, Tally undergoes the surgery in hopes that they will find a cure for the lesions. In the next book, Tally will be fighting for her freedom.
BTSYA / Teen Reader (14):
Uglies is a very imaginative book, creating an entirely new type of science fiction world. It is a unique take on the challenge of body image and teen issues, supposedly resolved at 16 with this magical operation. [The dark side is revealed later in the novel.]
The plot is well-thought-out and I like Westerfield's unique narrative tone. Plot and character development are thorough. My problem with the novel is that events were a bit slow and took a long time to get through. That is why I give it four stars.
Readers who like unique, post-apocalyptic worlds with lots of realism will be intrigued by the story.
Although listed as "middle grade" on the AR Bookfinder, most other sources list this as young adult.
This is the first book in a science fiction trilogy. The premise for this dystopian theme is the idea that teens can be "prettified" by an operation when they turn 16.
Although the primary plot is the idea that physical change dictate success, Westerfield also tackles environmental issues and preservation. The story is meant to be enjoyed just for fun, but some readers may find the themes thought-provoking enough to talk about them. The author has 10 great discussion questions on his website.
13 and Up
13 and Up
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 14
Borrow. It is definitely worth the read, as it makes you think, but it isn't likely a book you'll read again.