When I first saw the series which starts with Uglies, I thought the books were some Gossip Girl-type novels about spoiled, vacuous teens in Hollywood. But looks are deceiving — the books are actually sci-fi novels set in a future where all people get to be beautiful at the age of 16.
At that magical age, previously “ugly” (read: normal) teens get to have a major plastic surgery making them all perfectly, biologically attractive. Stunning, in fact. The only problem is — well, there don’t seem to be any problems at all. But of course, there must be some glitch. And that’s what Uglies is about.
Our heroine Tally, just on the cusp of turning 16 and finally getting to be a “pretty,” meets a new friend her age who tells her there can be more to life than just turning pretty. A small group of rebels are gathering in The Smoke, and she can join them. Tally has no desire to do so, but she ends up forced into it.
And that’s when life gets really interesting.
Uglies is another take on futuristic societies that try to make everyone equal and prevent wars and other blights of civilizations, at great costs. The twist of using appearance as a tool is a fascinating one, and particularly good food for thought for teens. Scott Westerfeld does a fine job of making readers think about society, civilization, equality, and appearance, among other topics. And he makes it fun, exciting and intriguing, to boot, with chases and wild tricks.
Rated: Mild, for some mild language use, and references to alcohol consumption and other partying by teens. “Pretties” get to party all they want, which includes getting drunk all they want. It’s not made attractive or really desirable by the book, however.