Review “Uglies” by Scott Westerfeld

Should the world really have to be pretty?

Spoiler Alert!

Tally lives in a post-apocalypse society where everyone has plastic surgery to make them pretty and homogeneous within their city. Tally comes to a point of personal crisis when her best friend runs away and she also chooses to run away to find the Rusties, who are all that remain outside the boundary of society. She is both horrified and attracted to the Rusties way of living and their physical appearance. While there she learns that the surgery not only changes the physical appearance of the people, but also affects their brain function so they will be easy to control. Tally has been manipulated by the powerful forces within the government to betray the Rusties. Her inadvertent betrayal of the Rusties precipitates a whole new set of problems for the next book.

Adult Point of View

Uglies should be read by every teen girl. It is incredibly disturbing and I was uncomfortable the entire time reading the Uglies, yet, it had so much value for teens today. We need to question what is beauty and recognize that even our unique physical appearance tells a story of who we are. It is important to recognize the angst that teens have to fit in and how dangerous it is to not be yourself. Tally was a particularly well thought out character because she is complex in her internal struggles, neither completely good nor bad. Uglies was a great starting point for a thought provoking conversation with my teen. It was appropriate for 13 and up.

As a strong warning, the next two books in the trilogy, Pretties and Specials, had very strong themes. I only let my young teen read them after I had edited out the material I did not want her to read, such as, self-mutilation by cutting. Pretties and Specials are appropriate unedited for upper high school age.

4 stars out of 5

– the Mother

Teen Point of View

I liked this book a lot. It was very unique and creative. I like every bit of it. It has a lot of action and romance. You can see the characters as they struggle with their problems. The Uglies is great; it encourages girls that it is their real self that is beautiful. This book really yells, “Be your self!” I think that all teen girls should read this. I enjoyed it and hope everyone else does too.

– the Daughter

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About Tales Untangled

I am a mother of four children and have a passion for reading. I love sharing my treasury of books with my kids. I also do experiments in cooking which includes such things as Indian Tandoori Chicken slow cooked in a tagine. Weekly I get together with friends and go to yoga for a bit of mommy time. Some may find me quirky, I prefer to think I am one of a kind.
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2 Responses to Review “Uglies” by Scott Westerfeld

  1. Irritable says:

    I really have to disagree. I found that the whole aversion to the radical plastic surgery arose only form the brain lesion inflicted during the surgery to make the “pretties” compliant. Without those, the books sound a lot like pro-plastic surgery propoganda. After all, the pretty people get to do fun things all the time and (in the second book) Tally is revered as a God.
    I also have a problem with the reason each person is given what is, I assume, tens of millions of dollars worth of plastic surgery. Is it just to the goverment can put a lesion on their brains to make them more compliant? Wouldn’t just mass drugging achieve the same result at a fraction of the cost? Wouldn’t genetic engineering accomplish the same thing? Sloppy lazy writing IMO.

    • The very fact that you disagree is one of the reasons I found the book valuable because it can be a springboard for a discussion with teenagers who are always so self-aware. I felt there were so many negatives presented about the plastic surgery that it made it unappealing. My teenager also felt it was a “put down on plastic surgery” as she said in her own words.

      You are correct that there are many more cost effective ways for a government to suppress and control its population. However, I suspend my disbelief over a matter like this because it is more interesting to immerse myself in the world that the author is developing rather than worrying if it is practical. I believe the author specifically used plastic surgery because it is so prevalent. I have read reports that it is popular to give 16 year old girls a present of breast augmentation in Brazil and that Utah has one of the leading rates for tummy tucks and breast augmentation in the USA. Do we really believe that beauty is only skin deep? It is also proven that more attractive people get higher paying jobs more often and are treated more politely by others in society. Anorexia, that has been considered a problem for girls, is now on the rise for young men. To what lengths will we go to try and achieve our vision of beauty and perfection?

      I feel it is a timely book to examine ourselves, our values and what we are teaching our children. Thank you so much for the opportunity for discussion.

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