Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
*Spoiler alert- this is a review of the second book in the series*
After months of physical hardship and challenging decisions, Tally’s dreams have finally come true.
At least her old dreams have; the ones from before she learned about the brains lesions and the Specials, her dreams from before she met David.
She is a Pretty now, her old worries have faded and she is going to parties and living the care-free lifestyle that she’d imagined for so many years.
Only, it’s a month after her life-changing surgery and Tally is struggling to fit in. She finds herself saying the wrong thing and upsetting her beautiful friends. Somehow she makes things too real and becomes convinced that there is something wrong with her.
Tally is terrified of not being accepted into Shay’s circle of friends- the Crims, she can think of nothing worse. But their leader, Zane, has noticed her and he has been impressed by her puzzling Ugly past which doesn’t quite make sense.
The first few chapters of ‘Pretties’ are so full of a champagne fizz of New Pretty language that the narrative begins to feel disjointed from reality, clearly replicating and showing the effect of the brain lesions on its victims.
This hazy sensation is finally disrupted when Tally meets a friend from her recent past who she can barely remember, a person who came specifically to see her. It seems that Tally hasn’t been forgotten, even if she can’t remember why.
This reminder of the struggle going on behind the glamour further accentuates an uncomfortable undertone to the Pretty lifestyle, highlighted by a few jarring moments amongst the dazzle and fun of it all, like when Peris and the wardens all laugh about the time he gave himself a concussion at a party and he had to stay awake or he’d die.
Eventually, memories begin to return, including those surrounding broken friendships, and during the Crim’s struggle to remain bubbly, things get dark and complicated again.
Challenging perceptions of beauty, identity and human nature, ‘Pretties’ is an exciting and unexpected instalment in the series. It manages to explore in greater depth the issues begun in Uglies whilst maintaining excitement and a break-neck pace, leaving the reader wondering- how much more can Tally take?