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Playing on every teen?s passionate desire to look as good as everybody else, Scott Westerfeld (Midnighters) projects a future world in which a compulsory operation at sixteen wipes out physical differences and makes everyone pretty by conforming to an ideal standard of beauty. The "New Pretties" are then free to play and party, while the younger "Uglies" look on enviously and spend the time before their own transformations in plotting mischievous tricks against their elders. Tally Youngblood is one of the most daring of the Uglies, and her imaginative tricks have gotten her in trouble with the menacing department of Special Circumstances. She has yearned to be pretty, but since her best friend Shay ran away to the rumored rebel settlement of recalcitrant Uglies called The Smoke, Tally has been troubled. The authorities give her an impossible choice: either she follows Shay?s cryptic directions to The Smoke with the purpose of betraying the rebels, or she will never be allowed to become pretty. Hoping to rescue Shay, Tally sets off on the dangerous journey as a spy. But after finally reaching The Smoke she has a change of heart when her new lover David reveals to her the sinister secret behind becoming pretty. The fast-moving story is enlivened by many action sequences in the style of videogames, using intriguing inventions like hoverboards that use the rider?s skateboard skills to skim through the air, and bungee jackets that make wild downward plunges survivable -- and fun. Behind all the commotion is the disturbing vision of our own society -- the Rusties -- visible only in rusting ruins after a virus destroyed all petroleum. Teens will be entranced, and the cliffhanger ending will leave them gasping for the sequel. (Ages 12 and up) --Patty Campbell

"Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that? Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license -- for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you 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."

Customer Reviews:

  • like Brave New World, only in shades of gray
    I liked UGLIES quite a bit. It's like Brave New World, a book about the hidden dark side of utopia, but written in shades of gray instead of Huxley's black and white. In Westerfield's world, social control and brainwashing leave citizens with enough independence that the benefits just might be worth the costs. Life is pretty good - everybody is provided with all the material goods they may need, surgically crafted physical beauty suited to their age and station, the freedom to indulge in youthful tricks and, later, adult pleasures.

    Almost everybody is happy - and, tell the truth, who wouldn't willingly trade a few brain cells for a lifetime of happiness? I sure would. But the few people who prefer a hard life with their own looks and their own thoughts to brain-damaged, supermodel paradise escape to found a city of their own, called The Smoke. Unfortunately, the kind of people who are drawn to The Smoke are exactly the individuals that the City can't afford to lose - the smartest, the bravest, the toughest. That's not ok, and the city will do anything to get the escapees back and integrate them into the system.

    Tally Youngblood is smart and brave, but she's also fifteen years old. She's easy to identify with, but she makes some horrible choices, all of them born out of the desire to fit in that motivates most teenagers most of the time. She's a kid, and you can see her learning from her mistakes and trying to do better, but she's been forced into a dangerous game and the stakes are very high.

    The plot's been summarized elsewhere, so I won't repeat it here. I liked the fact that the bells and whistles of Westerfield's future served the story, rather than becoming the subject of the book. I liked the fact that Westerfield is playing with a lot of really big ideas, but never becomes heavy-handed with them. I liked the fact that Westerfield doesn't coddle his characters. And I really liked Westerfield's writing, which is utterly brilliant....more info
  • Uglies Review
    Could you imagine a society where everyone looks the same and no one is ugly? In Tally's world, everyone gets to be pretty at the age of sixteen.
    Or do they? I thought this book had some thought provoking material and was an easy read. The story was realistic even though there were some parts that seemed a little far fetched like the attack on the Specials in the end. There are a couple of themes to the story as well. I felt the characters in the story were likable and easy to relate to. They had ideas and feelings of teens today. I would recommend this book to others and am looking forward to reading the next in the series, Pretties....more info
  • Uglies
    I purchased several copies of this book for a Book Club with my 6th grade class - they absolutely LOVED it, and everyone of them is trying to get ahold of the next book in the series, The Pretties. This is a great science fiction book, especially for girls. So many Sci-fi books are written for boys, but this book focuses on the future as well as what's important to so many girls today - the way they look. I truly believe that you should be a different person after you read something, and Westerfield has done an excellent job of changing the way readers look at technology, vanity, and the future....more info
  • Being Pretty isn't All Good
    Mr. Westerfeld has established a very good reputation as a writer of imaginative and engrossing YA science fiction, and this book is a prime example of how he has earned that reputation.

    The palette for this book is a society that has declared that everyone must be pretty, and achieves that goal through a set of medical operations at age sixteen, so that no one will end up with the misfortune of having less than stellar looks, thereby eliminating many of the conflicts associated with people who look `different'. Those in the `tween' years of 12 to 15 are, of course, comparatively ugly, and are typically known by that moniker, as opposed to the `littles', the `middle pretties' - those in middle age, and the `crumblies' - still pretty, but old. Pretties get to party all night and all day, with practically whatever they want delivered on demand through the convenient service outlet in their rooms. The uglies, of course feeling somewhat left out, often try to trick their minding sensors and crash the pretty parties, with some more successful than others.

    Tally Youngblood is one such ugly, an inventive, bright fifteen year old, only a few weeks away from her pretty operation. Her `tricks' to enter the pretty society across the river and her friendship with another ugly, Shay, eventually lead to her being noticed and unwillingly being recruited by the Specials, a shadowy group that seems to actually be in control of this society, to help find and destroy a small group of renegades from this utopia who live in the wilds. Her travels in pursuit of this goal eventually lead her far from the city and just as far from the mental viewpoint it encapsulates.

    Tally is well drawn as a young girl with perfectly understandable goals and emotions. The problems she faces have immediate and forceful impact on not just her worldview, but on the reader's. The challenges are not small molehills of little larger relevance, but in fact have great import in her development while at the same time allowing the reader to see and think about the problems of such a society and what the alternatives to it are. All of this is done without any preaching or overt philosophizing, in very clear prose.

    I did have a few reservations about just how the economy of this society actually worked, as only hints were given about just what the middle pretties did, how things were manufactured, or just what technology was really behind some of the gadgets. But these were pretty small quibbles compared to the presentation of Tally's character and those around her, both those sympathetic to her and those wishing to control her.

    This is only the first book of this trilogy (actually now four books), so the end of this book leaves a lot of threads hanging, but it does manage to conclude the initial scenario quite well, and shows us a Tally who is a far cry from the Tally at the beginning of the book. It perhaps is not a great sf book, but it's a whole lot better than some of the `adult' material being published today, as it is quite accessible by people who don't have Ph. D. in rocket science, while still being both quite inventive and with quite a bit of meat hiding behind it's story of one girl's growth.

    ---Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
    ...more info
  • third best book ever written :)
    i am currently on the fourth book in this series i could hardly ever put any of them down. this is a definite must for any book loivng freak like me. :)...more info
    This is part of my favorite series, each book as good as the other but anyway about Uglies. I really wasn't into much sci-fi or futuristic kind of books, I mean I'd read a few and it was never really my favorite but this book is amazing. I'm not really good about summarizing stuff and I'm always afraid to give away too much but it's pretty much about this girl named Tally Youngblood who lives in the future. In the future you are considered "ugly" until your 16 when you get a surgery to make you "pretty" and they have two different towns for the uglies and the pretties. All Tally's friends have become pretty already except her, so one night she meets this girl Shay who does something that pretty much makes the whole story. Yeah sorry that wasn't very good (the summary) yeah but the book rocks...more info
  • Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder
    In today's modern society, everyone wants to be pretty. But in this book, becoming pretty comes with a price. In the book Uglies, Westerfeld's first book in his awesome trilogy, we discover a very possible future where everyone can possess stunning beauty when they turn sixteen. Everyone else is ugly. The story's main character is Tally, a girl who lives in the future and wants to be pretty more than anything. In order to be pretty, Tally has to betray her friend or forever stay ugly. Tally finds herself in this novel and what she what she really wants.
    I personally loved this eye-opening novel. It has a plot that is well-constructed and keeps you hungry for more. Westerfeld satisfies this hunger, seeing as to he has a trilogy to Uglies. It also has a message that everyone can relate to: True beauty lies within. Uglies is a book that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys stories that open the mind and leave you thinking at the end. I would give this awesome book a rating of 5 stars.
    ...more info
  • Uglies
    This book was such a great read! I'm a sophomore in high school and it was really easy for me to connect with a lot of the themes that came up in this novel. The story and plot was very suspenseful and it kept my attention and made me never want to put it down. However, in my opinion the book had a little too much science fiction in it than was necessary but it was still a captivating story. I think the author did a really good job of conveying the thoughts of a teenage girl who just wanted to be pretty. I know that a lot of girls can probably relate and that's why I really liked this book. It really makes you think about our society today and how fixed we are on this idea of beauty and vanity. I give this book 4 stars for being a well written novel that was also fun and interesting to read....more info
  • Great Sci Fi YA
    While I like fantasy, I really am not into sci-fi or futuristic kinds of books. I never would have even tried this book except it has been flying off the shelves at our school library. The story is about a futuristic society in which you are deemed ugly until 16 when you have a surgery to make you pretty. The main character, Tally, is coerced into spying on a group of rebels who live in a place called "The Smoke". She won't get to become pretty unless she agrees to do this. I was on the edge of my seat until the end of the book trying to figure out how Tally would get out of the mess she made. I was impressed by this story and would consider reading the rest of the series....more info
  • Not An Ugly Story
    "In a world of extreme beauty, anyone normal is ugly."
    Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld, is addicting. A social satire/ sci-fi story that depicts a world where all people over the age of 16 are made super perfect pretties, Uglies takes the concept of "fitting in" to the extreme. The main character, Tally, just wants to be a pretty, but then she meets Shay, who doesn't, and things change. When Shay runs away, Tally discovers that being pretty may not be so wonderful. She must traverse the land outside the cities, find Shay, and decide for herself if the life of a pretty is the life she wants.
    The combination of Tally's internal and external conflicts makes a fast, but not too fast-paced adventure filled with secrets, danger, and even some romance. Uglies sudo-future will appeal to anyone who loves The Giver.
    I loved this story. The teenaged characters were easy to relate to and the drama kept me at the edge of my set. Tally's conflicts with her friends and her own desires mixed and blended until I had to try just as hard to come up with an answer as she did. I felt Tally's hurt at Shay's angry words, and her slight regret at her final decision, which is the main reason why at the end of the book I was left thinking, "What? Where's the rest?"

    Mrs. Sage's Class
    CeCe Underwood...more info
  • Not your typical YA book
    Westerfeld's imagination and writing is extraordinary. Every person wishes at some point in their life that they were more beautiful or that they could just change something on their body. Westerfeld takes this idea and turns it around on us. This is not your typical young adult book, this gets you thinking, thinking about morals and what's under the surface of that "Barbie" type girl. ...more info
  • The best book ever!!!
    Scott Westerfeld

    Can you imagine a world where becoming supermodel beautiful was your sweet sixteen present? In Tally's world, before you turn sixteen, you are considered an ugly then when you turn sixteen you go through an operation to become a pretty, Tally can't wait for that day to come, but everything changes when she meets this girl named Shay and Tally's world is turned upside down. Shay does not want to become pretty, so she decides to runaway, and asks Tally if she wants to come with her. Now Tally faces a big decision that could change her life forever.
    I loved this book, I couldn't put it down from the moment I started reading it. It was so descriptive that when I read the story it felt like I was seeing it through Tally's eyes. It was extremely interesting and visual. I loved that the book was about adventure, friendship and even a little love. Scott Westerfeld did a great job writing the realistic dialogue too. It was such an amazing book!
    Uglies is grabbing and exciting. I recommend this book to anyone who loves adventure books, also people who love seeing the story unfold through the characters eyes.

    Marisa T....more info
  • A fantastic start to the fantastic series
    Devour is not nearly appropriate enough for how I read this book. I nearly inhaled this fast-paced story, and could never have hoped to put it down before I finished it.

    The premise may have been done before, but Scott Westerfeld breaths new life into the idea, and markets it to the fertile minds of Young Adults who can use it.

    Tally lives in a gorgeously complex dystopia, set in a future that seems all to far off and yet at the same time all to near, that appears very simple up front. 'At the age of 16, you get a surgery to become beautiful', what could possibly be wrong with that? Everything. This novel (and subsequent ones) explore the darker natures of humanity about how far one is willing to go to remain an individual, when everyone else is screaming "Conform!"...more info
  • I thought it would be more thought provoking and have a bit more substance to it
    This is the first book in the Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfield. The book follows Tilly and Shay, two Uglies who are waiting to turn 16 so that they can get their operations and become Pretties. Pretties are all beautiful and get to live in New Pretty City where life is a party and beautiful all of the time. Everyone becomes a Pretty when they turn 16 without exception. While Tilly yearns to become a Pretty Shay wants to escape Uglyville to see what lies outside of the city. Shay is worried about the Pretty operation; what if more than just your appearance changes?

    Does the above sound like a shallow premise for a story? Well it is kind of. Although it makes you think a little bit (and I mean a little bit) about what would happen if everyone was perfect and beautiful. Although the story really isn't about that and maybe if it talked more about that it might have some substance.

    I realize being 30 I am not the main market for this young adult novel; but it seemed like surfacey and overused material for me. I think even young girls reading it will figure out what is going by the first chapter of the book. In tone it reminded me a little (tiny) bit of the Tripods Trilogy by John Christopher; except with young girls, and it was all about being pretty and identical, and humans actually have it pretty darn good, and there was a little love story, and I guess it's been about 15 years since I read the Tripods so maybe it wasn't all that similar. I really think it had a similar tone to it though.

    By the end of the book I am still not sure if people being turned Pretty is all that horrible. I think you were supposed to think it is the worst thing in the world but I wasn't all that convinced.

    All the above being said. The book was simply written, easy to read, a very quick read, and entertaining enough that I finished it. Given all I have heard about these novels I already purchased the next two so...I will probably read the next book in the series even though I am not all that enamored with it. It gets 3 stars for an "It's okay, I guess". It didn't offend me but it didn't work my mind or thrill me either. info
  • Great!
    With three months until Tally Youngblood turns sixteen, she sneaks into the pretties world to find her best friend. He is glad to see her but shocked that she is there. Uglies and pretties never mingle. She will return after her surgery to make her pretty and then they will resume their friendship. Emergency sirens and spotlights speed her exit from the perfect society. While waiting for her birthday, she meets Shay who shows her a world of blissful imperfections. Shay invites Tally to stay as she is and escape with her to a world where appearance is never seen as ugly.

    I have to admit, I held off reading this because I thought it would be a new version of an old Twilight Zone episode. Although the initial concept is there, it does not follow the same plot line. UGLIES explores the depth of the pretty-making-process and the unseen damage that is within the realm of acceptable failure.

    Mr. Westerfeld's writing is superb. The reader is swept into his world as if it were their own. The pace and timing are spot on with no sluggish moments and the tension builds perfectly.

    Although UGLIES is set in a futuristic world, the setting is not far removed from reality. There is never a distanced and cold feeling, except when Tally jumps into an icy river. The characters are believable and enjoyable and portrayed as intelligent teenagers who still face the awkward transition into adulthood.

    All elements for a good story are here and told in an enjoyable fashion. Scott Westerfeld has easily become my favorite YA author. author...more info
  • Uglies Book Review
    Jose Alfonso-

    This book was great! Uglies is about a girl named Tally Youngblood who is forced to live in a world obsessed with beauty. In the story all teenagers must wait until their sixteenth birthday to get the operation to become a pretty, but before the operation they are known as Uglies. While Tally is waiting for that day to come she meets Shay. Her and Shay have the same birthday so they can get the operation the same day. While they waited for their sixteenth birthdays they did a lot of pranks that they would not be able to do after they were Pretties. So the day before the operation came and Shay had decided she wanted to stay an ugly and run away to The Smoke where all Uglies could stay ugly for the rest of their lives and she had begged Tally to go with her but she wanted to become a pretty. The day of the operation, Tally was not allowed to get the operation unless she turned in her friend. So Tally had to choose over her friend and the operation. This book really relates to the world now and how it is obsessed with beauty. In the book the author also mentions how it was all because of the war and obsession over beauty of our time....more info
  • Thought provoking and entertaining
    I very much enjoyed beibg introduced to this new and futuristic world that Tally lives in. It was an adventursome read. What will happen next?...more info
  • Uglies has its moments...
    OK, when I first started reading this book, I was a litle put off by the whole futuristic thing. However, i did find the book funny when they talk about the old days and how the Rusties destroyed the world by wasting resources...etc. I didn't think I would be able to relate to anyone in the book because of how it is set in the future but I found that I constantly imagined myself in Tally's shoes--if I would make the same choices or want the same things. The plot is interesting, it has its humor, adventure, and romance. There are moments where the chapters seem like they are missing something and other moments (one moment in particular) where you are at the edge of your seat to find out what happens next. I am in the middle of the second book, Pretties. ...more info
  • Great and very different Sci-Fi!!!!!
    Last I heard they were making a movie out of the trilogy. This book caught me by surprise as to how good it was. Tally's adventures are incredible and entertaining that you cannot let go of the book. It still reads like a teen book but do not let that stop you from reading this book it is GOOD!!!!!...more info
  • beauty and dystopia
    "Uglies" is a dystopia about the perils of beauty. Set in a future after the death of our own culture (to denizens of this dystopia, we're the Rusties because we built so many things with metals), society focuses on becoming beautiful. At age 16, every child undergoes a major surgery to meet the standard of beautiful: wide eyes, full lips, perfect skin, even a standard height. Before the surgery, they're called "uglies"; post-surgery, they're called "pretties". The stated goal of the surgery is to make everyone equal by making everyone meet a predetermined and narrowly-defined standard of beauty.

    Tally Youngblood is a 15-year-old girl who is just shy of her 16th birthday. Her best friend, Peris, has already had the surgery, and she misses him fiercely. She makes a friend in Shay, another girl who is missing her friends. Shay is missing her friends for a different reason. Instead of submitting to the surgery, Shay's friends have run away from their city to go to the Smoke, a community of other Ugly runaways. The night before Shay's surgery, she runs away too, leaving a note for Tally in case she wants to join her.

    Tally chooses to stay and become pretty. On the day of her surgery, she instead finds herself in the hands of Special Circumstances, a frightening enforcement agency that most Uglies and Pretties think doesn't exist. Special Circumstances wants to know more about the Smoke, and they give Tally a terrible decision: go find Shay and betray her and the Smoke, or never become pretty. Tally finally agrees to go to the Smoke. When she arrives, she meets David. His parents, both doctors, founded the Smoke when they discovered the horrible secret behind the surgery. Tally, shocked, decides that she will stay in the Smoke, and destroys the homing device that she was given by Special Circumstances.

    Destroying the device activates it anyway. Special Circumstances comes, rounds up all of the runaways, and takes them back to their city. They first turn Shay pretty, which verifies for the runaways the horror of the surgery. Tally admits to David and his mother that she was the cause of their discovery, and sets about making it right. The book ends there, leading to the next book in the series.

    I came to read "Uglies" by a recommendation in the blog of John Scalzi. His recommendation made me pick it up when I stumbled across it a few days later. I started reading the novel at 9pm that night; at midnight, 300 pages in, I had to force myself to put it down so that I could get at least some sleep before work the next day. I couldn't wait to get home to finish it, and now I'm disappointed that I didn't have time this evening to buy the next book in the series. It's been a long time since I've been unable to put a book down. I hope that the rest of the books in the series are as good as this!...more info