May 21, 12
Read in December, 2010
Even when I consistently get to the end of dystopian youth fiction and find that I retrospectively did not enjoy it all that much, I still burn through it and enjoy it while reading. (Hello, Hunger Games.) This was precisely my experience with the Uglies series. The story follows Tally Youngblood, a teenager anxiously awaiting the day when she will receive the operation to become a "Pretty." The operation will remove all defects and build her face to be the model of attractiveness, just like everyone else over the age of sixteen. Until then, Tally lives in a dorm with the other Uglies, who are largely ignored by society. Tally, however, has a penchant for pranks and when she meets Shay, another Ugly, they have a great time. Shay wants to avoid the operation, so when her day comes, she leaves for a rumored town of rebels who refuse to submit to this rebuilt society. The government then co-opts Tally's operation, forcing her to hunt down Shay and the other rebels before she can become a Pretty. The following volumes reveal more about this remade world and give Westerfeld's world-building a real chance to shine. In the end, I think that's why I tend to burn through these books and enjoy them as I read. I like interesting worlds centered on interesting ideas. Westerfeld does a great job of that, far superior to the Hunger Games, in my opinion, and much more comparable to Gregor the Overlander in the level of detail and thought given to the world the story portrays. But for one of these books to really stick with me, I think that I have to find a character that I truly like. That was the massive failing of Hunger Games, and while I like the Uglies characters better, it is still fairly marginal. (Gregor had the best characters by far in this set of comparisons.) In the end, Uglies and its companions are good for a fun and fast read, but will not be lifelong friends.