Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Tally can't wait to turn sixteen and become Pretty. Sixteen is the magic number that brings a transformation from a repellent Ugly into a stunningly attractive Pretty, and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks, Tally will be there.
But Tally's new friend, Shay, isn't sure she wants to be Pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the Pretty world - and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn Pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.
My Review *Spoilers*
Uglies is one of the best books I've read in recent times. What immediately grabbed me was the protagonist, Tally Youngblood. The great thing about Tally is that she's not necessarily the heroine that you might expect in a dystopian novel because Tally spends most of the book believing in the procedures put in place by the government. Sure, she's rebellious and breaks the rules, but her ideals follow the government's - she wants nothing more than to turn sixteen and have her operation to become a Pretty.
The real driving force behind the story is the customary best friend, Shay, who is the instigator of a series of events which changes Tally's perception of the operation. When Shay runs away to the Smoke, a group of people living in the wilderness, the government recruits Tally to go after Shay and find the location, and Tally goes because she wants to become Pretty. Quite selfish for a heroine, I would say.
Actually, a lot of things that Tally does are selfish but that's why I love her. Her behaviour is realistic because if you have been taught to live a certain way your entire life, you can't just change yourself because someone says so. Tally only changes when she arrives at the Smoke. There she meets David, whose ugliness she manages to get past, and there is a love triangle which I found refreshing. She begins to see the Smoke differently and has a change of heart, and that's why her transformation is believable.
What Worked: I really enjoyed the way the story unfolded. Tally wasn't the one trying to figure out a mystery, she was the one keeping the secret. I really liked the characters in this book such as Shay and David. who were both very strong and independent. The best part was Tally's realisation that being ugly wasn't as bad as she had always believed.
What Didn't Work: The book was great overall. Towards the end when Tally was trying to rescue her friends, I got a bit muddled with what was going on because there was so much action.
Recommended: If you enjoy YA Dystopians like The Hunger Games or Divergent.