Monday, June 14, 2010

Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld

After my last taste of YA fiction, I thought I'd stick with it for a while. This one was a really fun read, though I wouldn't rank it among the YA greats.

Where I heard about this book: My 12 year old just finished it and loved it.

What I thought of this book: Good. 3 1/2 stars

What this book is about
: Set in the future, Uglies is a combination coming-of-age/redemption story. In a bid to level the playing field among humans, the powers that be have developed a surgery that makes everyone equally gorgeous. These newly formed 'pretties' are then sent to the city to party their lives away.

Tally is still an ugly, eagerly awaiting her 16th birthday, when she will be made pretty. Enter Shay, another on-the-cusp ugly who would rather run away than submit to the operation. The girls bond over the joys of being adventurous-but-not-really-bad teens, including out-of-bounds hoverboarding; a kind of skateboarding done midair. Tally wants to be pretty, however, and has no interest in joining her friend on a perilous journey to the the countryside to live with a mythological band of rebels. She is ultimately forced (by evil authority figures) to betray her friends, and then turns around and does her best to save them.

This novel has a little bit of everything that makes YA great: adventure, best friends, romance, normal kids who act heroic, and a celebration of nonconformity. It reminded me of what I loved about literature as a child. I would spend hours imagining myself inside my favorite books, usually as an additional character I'd invented, spinning my own subplots. While reading Uglies, I started to picture myself joining in with Tally and her friends as they peformed 'tricks' and hoverboarded around the city. Much as I love grown-up books, I rarely get his feeling of wanting to be part of the action.

Uglies was intended to be the first in a trilogy. The series has now expanded to four books. The author's website describes the newest as the 'last in the series'. I wouldn't run out and get the others, but if they appear on our bookshelves I'll read them.

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