Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
In a future where everyone becomes a Pretty at the age of sixteen, life is fair and uncomplicated.
At least, that’s what Tally has been told.
As a fifteen-year-old Ugly stuck waiting for her most important birthday in Uglyville, the fireworks of New Pretty Town beckon from across the river and she is counting down the days until her own surgical transformation. Then she’ll be free to party all night long in the care-free and glamorous company of other Pretties, and being an awkward Ugly will be a distant memory.
Until she meets Shay, and she discovers a friend that is so interesting and who has such strange ideas that time passes much more bearably. They begin to take risks, going on midnight adventures in the desolate ruined landscape that their distant ancestors, the Rusties, left behind.
To Tally, enjoying the thrills of their hoverboarding adventures is her farewell to the life of an Ugly, but to Shay it is something else, something to do with the mysterious and elusive David.
Suddenly the most anticipated day in Tally’s life becomes the first in a series of events she could never imagine and she finds herself having to answer a terrible question; how much are your dreams worth, and could you betray your friend to make them come true?
Westerfield’s future dystopia is certainly an alluring one; no war, no poverty, people living in balance with the world around them and everyone beautiful, confident and happy.
As the story progresses, however, the reader begins to see that this comes with certain costs. One of these Tally meets first hand; the terrifying Specials who she thought were just a myth, and their ruthless leader Dr Cable who seems to hold Tally’s whole future in the palm of her hand.
What will Tally decide to do? And will she be able to live with the consequences of her decision?
Is being a Pretty everything that she’s been lead to believe?
A fiercely enjoyable novel, ‘Uglies’ is packed with thrilling hoverboard rides, tense getaways and disturbing revelations. These adrenaline packed moments sit perfectly alongside thoughtful insights into the ideas of self-worth and image, and can’t help but nudge the reader into questioning the same issues within our own ‘Rusty’ society, showing just how subjective, transient and dangerous they can be.
Pre-dating them, this is a must for any fans of ‘The Hunger Games’ or ‘Divergent’ trilogies, and for anyone who enjoys speculative and exciting stories that question our own failings, asking; where could this all lead?