Rhiannon Frater's Reviews > Pretties

Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
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it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites

I thoroughly enjoyed the second book of this series. UGLIES was very well-written and captivating and I wasn't sure what to expect from the second book.

I was pleasantly surprised.

(warning: slight spoilers ahead)

Though the Pretties appear in the first book, they take center stage in the second. We get a very clear view of their vapid, carefree, and quite frivolous existence in their mansions and party towers. Due to the lesions inflicted on their brains during the operation to make them pretty, the Pretties are not the brightest bunch. They indulge in their own silly-talk, using words like "bogus" and "bubbly" to describe their state of mind, surroundings and circumstances. They have zero ambitions and are creatures of pleasure.

It was heart-breaking to see our heroine Tally as a Pretty in the beginning of the book. Seeing her dumbed down and just as vapid as everyone else was extremely disconcerting. Though I knew from the end of the first book that this was her chosen fate (she sacrificed herself to help Shay), it was sad nonetheless.

Tally in Uglies was a flawed person, a product of her Ugly upbringing, so in this book she is initially the product of her Pretty operation. The world that Tally has lived in all her life has been carefully constructed to control everyone within the city. By making her loathe herself as an Ugly, she was hobbled by self-doubt and her great desire to be Pretty. In Pretties, Tally continues to be a victim of that system and is reduced to a beautiful, vain, and vapid creature.

But that all changes when Tally runs into one of the Smokies from the first book.

I loved how the author slowly woke the heroine out of her Pretty daze. Using adrenaline rushes to focus her senses was a very scary way to wake her up (which Tally notes several times), but it works. Tally ends up forming first a friendship, then a romantic relationship with Zane, another Pretty who is becoming "bubbly" (or waking up).

I know some readers (from reading reviews here) were upset with Tally for forgetting David, her love interest in the first book, but it was well-established in Uglies that Tally would lose her memories. The relationship that evolves between her and Zane feels much more natural in some ways because they are both products of a stringently controlled environment that they desperately want to escape the more "bubbly" they become.

I really loved the world-building in this book. The descriptions of the city were really awesome. The floating skating rink and the hoverboard rides were some of my favorite parts.

Another aspect of the book I really enjoyed is how we see through Tally's eyes how much the history of her world has been carefully warped to bring validation to the city. Huge chunks of world history are obviously missing from her education. It appears that the city founders picked only the events that would support their world.

I liked how Tally struggles constantly with the internal programming of her upbringing and the Pretty operation as she maneuvers through an increasingly confusing world. Though she has been taught the Rusties (us, basically) were evil and destroyed the world, and she knows the people controlling the city are wrong, she has great difficulty deciding what is the best way to live her life. Tally has a great respect for the environment (due to her upbringing in the city) and is repulsed by the idea of using natural resources to survive, but she also learns to accept hunting, fishing, and living in the wild. Her internal conflict is very real as her carefully constructed belief system is torn down.

As for the ending, I liked it quite a lot. It showed the extent of control and manipulation the Specials has over the city. That they would so expertly control the situation around Zane, Tally and Shay makes sense. The three main characters are only sixteen after all and the Specials have far more experience controlling every aspect of the city than the kids do in actually thinking for themselves. That Tally falls for the Specials tricks over and over again is not surprising and very heartbreaking.

Finally, the whole David/Zane conflict really didn't bother me. David was obviously her first (and forbidden) love. It is always the most bittersweet love of all. Her relationship with Zane felt more adult as they were drawn together by circumstances and their shared desire to break free. Her sacrifice at the end wasn't so surprising. Instead of staying with Zane out of a sense of guilt (the reason she returned to the city in Uglies), she stayed with him because she loved him.

Tally is one of those wonderfully flawed characters that sometimes gets things wonderfully right, then screws up just as horrifically. She's not perfect. She's only sixteen. She's the product of a very screwed up world. And her journey to self is not always easy to read about. But I absolutely adore the girl.

I'm diving into Specials and anxious to see if she finally finds freedom.

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Reading Progress

January 8, 2012 – Started Reading
January 8, 2012 – Shelved
January 9, 2012 – Finished Reading
January 26, 2013 – Shelved as: favorites

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