There is an interesting arc to my appreciation of Extras.
I wasn't so sure at first. The girl on the front is obviously not Tally Youngblood, and so I...moreThere is an interesting arc to my appreciation of Extras.
I wasn't so sure at first. The girl on the front is obviously not Tally Youngblood, and so I was rather nervous about starting a Westerfeld book that wasn't about Tally Youngblood. But start it I did, and for the first half or so I was in young adult fiction bliss.
Extras does it all right when it comes to futuristic fiction with a bit of a social commentary. Insert Aya Fuse, a fifteen-year-old in post-mind-rain (see Specials) Japan, where they've set up the face-rank system. Your place in society is determined by your face-rank, or how much people talk about you. And poor Aya is stuck at about 400,000.
But there is hope for Aya! If she can find a story to kick, she can catapult herself into top-20,000 in no time. It's just a matter of finding that perfect kickable story.
And it lands in her lap.
The idea of a society where popularity of a feed (read: blog) is more important than how much money you make or what you wear, or what you do for a living is closer on the global horizon than you might think, in a world of YouTube and mySpace.
And of course, this makes Extras CHOCK full of neato futuristic stuff (that's a technical term). Hovercams, mag-lev trains, smart matter (matter than can transform itself at any time), wall screens, eyescreens, skintennae, hoverball rigs.
Keep in mind, this is all that first half of the book I liked.
I wanted to like the last half, really, I did. But it didn't really have an ending. Not a Scott Westerfeld ending, at least.
Other Scott Westerfeld endings had crazy turns, like (spoiler warning) Tally abandoning reason and becoming pretty, even thought it screws with your brain, or like Tally turning Special, even though it screws with your brain, or Tally not fixing her brain after she fixes everyone else's to keep things in order.
No. At the end of Extras, we learn that it was all a big misunderstanding and then go to a party.
Of course, if Scott Westerfeld writes something else to follow this one, I'll read it because I love his books, and I want him to fix this ending.(less)
Uglies is the high school english teacher's answer to prayer when they try and assign 1984 to their tenth-graders and get all those complaints from pa...moreUglies is the high school english teacher's answer to prayer when they try and assign 1984 to their tenth-graders and get all those complaints from parents about the "crap" their kids have to read in school.
It's 1984 or Brave New World without all the really offensive stuff.
Consequently, it's a little bit watered down, message-wise. But it's also fantastically detailed. Scott Westerfeld definitely thought this one out, what with the hoverboards (not quite like Back to the Future), space food, and interface rings.
Tally Youngblood is ugly. But that's normal for her age, and she won't be for long, because in just a couple of months she'll be sixteen. In just a couple of months, she'll turn pretty, move out of Uglyville, and party all the time.
But while she's waiting to turn, she meets Shay, an ugly who shares her birthday and isn't so sure she wants to be pretty. When Shay runs away from Uglyville to a mysterious place called The Smoke, it's up to Tally to find her. She has to. Because if she doesn't, they say she can't turn pretty...
Ends abruptly, but that's because there's a second, and a third, and even a fourth.
Great prose, imaginative idea, blessedly clean for a teen book (I swear they're all about sex and vampires), not terribly funny, but then again, we can't all be Terry Pratchett.(less)