Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book Review - The Uglies

I think she's pretty, but hey, I'm an Ugly too.

Everything’s so bubbly!

Let’s kick things off: I thought I hated Scott Westerfeld’s writing style. I couldn’t get past sixty pages in Peeps and the thought of reading another novel nearly terrified me. Luckily for me, Tally of The Uglies was a thousand times better, smarter, and more believable narrator than Cal. In this latest novel that I’m years behind on discovering, Tally Youngblood is fifteen and wants to become a Pretty. Becoming Pretty is an operation the city doctor and officials approve so everyone looks like a childhood supermodel to eliminate divisions based on appearances. When Tally meets Shay and her determination to stay Ugly, or normal, she weighs the consequences of looking Pretty for the first time.

The Uglies struck me as phenomenal. Our protagonist Tally was strong-willed and determined and rarely did she vacillate between her beliefs (something that’s often missing in YA novels where characters change their minds every ten pages). Tally put her trust in the government because they hid most of the alarming truths (don’t they all?) and she viewed anything else as radical. She exhibited a backbone, loyalty, and wisdom, and these attributes created believable and humorous dialogue.

Westerfeld made a wise choice in not making the romance part of the main plot. In fact, the romance between Tally and her boo thang wasn’t even a subplot, for which I graciously thanked him. Yes, as teenagers we are all enamored by others we find attractive or friendly, but friendship trumps romance in reality. Even while infatuated, teenagers understand that ditching bros or chicks is not acceptable. Tally didn’t start focusing 90% of her thoughts on her significant other until very late in the novel, and this eased the plot and characters through the stress of capture and escape. 

I know that no story is perfect, but one of the only suggestions I would want to see in a different version of The Uglies would simply be more detailed descriptions of the cities. The nature was beautifully portrayed, but in certain scenes, especially toward the end, the descriptions fell to action and I really wanted to see more of the inside of the Special Circumstances headquarters. However, this was minor, and did not affect my score overall because the rest of the setting was illustrated and imagined just fine. 

The second suggestion is the lack of details provided during the infiltration scene. In about ten pages, Tally and her accomplice broke into a highly guarded government facility. That is not realistic. I want action, close calls, and locked doors (really, Westerfeld? Have you been inside a government facility where every door was unlocked?). The beginning was full of specific details for setting and action, but the ending fell short of the expectations the start of the novel set up. 

In conclusion, if you missed the Westerfeld Uglies train like I did, buy a ticket and hop on board because it is phenomenal. Perhaps a second read would allow my eyes to open to other flaws, but for now, this rating is based on my first read and is possibly influenced by how much more pleased I was with this novel as opposed to Peeps.

Rating: 4 / 5 Barbie Dolls

If you're interested, you can get the novel here


  1. Nice review :D Your voice is very strong in the post. I loved it! Also, the book seems fascinating. Just one of many that I now have to read lol

  2. Thank you! I definitely got into this review more than the last two. I hope Oryx & Crake is as interesting as this one, and knowing Atwood, it will blow my mind. Please add this novel to the top of your list!

    Thanks for your comment! :)