Review: The Uglies

Alysia Garvalena, Student Life

Imagine a world where, at the age of 16, everyone gets the “operation” and is transformed into a   gorgeous supermodel with no beauty flaws or defects whatsoever. Imagine a world where, when you turn 16, you can walk into a room and everyone gasps at how perfect you look. Well, in Scott Westerfeld’s book, The Uglies, that’s just the way life is.

Everyone is ‘ugly’ and lives in Uglyville until they turn 16, when the Pretty Committee comes and picks them up.  An operation is then performed that makes them look pretty well perfect, with big full lips, and the perfect soft and even skin, the perfect height, weight and skin tone. After the operation you are moved into New Pretty Town. After that it is partying 24/7.  The only real concern you have is which party will you attend and what will you wear.

Tally Youngblood is just your average 15-year-old girl who can’t wait to turn 16 and become pretty, until she meets Shay. Shay is a 15-year-old ugly with the same birthday as Tally, with friends in New Pretty Town just like Tally.  The only difference is Shay doesn’t want to be pretty. Shay likes the way she looks and doesn’t want to look like everyone else with their perfect looks.

Shay makes plans for the two to run away together into the Ruins and live in Smoke. Smoke is a secret camp where ‘ugly’ people run away from the cities and live in the wild. They cut trees for wood, kill animals and fish for food, burn firewood and pollute the air with the harmful smoke. Sounds familiar, right?

The night before Shay and Tally’s operation, Shay tells Tally where she is going and invites Tally to come along. Tally refuses to believe such a place like Smoke even exists and refuses to leave the city. Shay leaves Tally a well-encrypted handwritten note on how to get to Smoke in case she changes her mind.

The morning of the operation, Tally is taken to Special Circumstances, where she is coerced into spying for the people who run everything or she will stay ‘ugly’ forever.

Tally, of course, cannot imagine living ‘ugly’ forever, and makes the journey to Smoke for the Specials. The plan for Tally is to go to Smoke and set up a tracker who will lead the Specials straight to the illegal camp.

Once Tally reaches the camp, she finds Shay and falls in love with David. David is the leader (more or less) of Smoke. Unlike everyone else, he was born in the wild and raised by his parents who used to be part of the ‘Pretty Committee.’

Soon Tally learns the truth about being turned pretty that the Specials and Pretty Committee will kill to keep a secret.

Tally must make a decision to betray her best friend, her new boyfriend and the rest of Smoke, or stay ‘ugly’ forever and be with the people she has fallen in love with.

The Uglies is a story full of twists and turns that keeps the reader entertained throughout the book. The book makes you want to continue and read the rest of the series, and makes you think about what it means to be “pretty” and “ugly.” I recommend this book to all readers who enjoy a little sci-fi, a lot of action and a deep plot.  I give this novel a good 4 out of 5 stars.