Diane's Reviews > Uglies

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
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's review
Mar 15, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: 2012-read, dystopian, young-adult-fiction, kindle
Recommended for: middle schoolers, people getting it for free

Eh. I would give this book 2.5 stars if I could, really, because my feelings were more in between It Was Okay and I Liked It. But, I maybe should have reviewed it right away when I finished it because I made the mistake of starting the next book (which is maybe less indication of Really Liking as it is indication of surfeit of free time at the moment - I'm stuck in bed with something bronchial) and I was only about 10% through the book before I was pretty much over it already. I mean, even stuck in bed with something bronchial, I was enough done with the second book of this series that I tossed it down and went and did the dishes instead! So, I'm afraid maybe that is coloring my view of the first book since now I sort of regret the waste of reading time.

But, the writing is fine in this book and that is frequently the first hurdle in YA fiction, for me. I didn't have any problems with the writing style. And I actually quite *liked* the style, as it applied to this book, because I did have a clear sense that the thoughts and things being projected *were* the thoughts of this age group. There was a good match between characters and style and I appreciate that when I am reading. (This was really brought to my attention for the first time when I read Stray, which I really enjoyed. Unfortunately the similarities to the goodness that is Stray end with the writing style not annoying me.)

I also liked the premise of the book. I found it quite interesting. I was quite willing and happy to sink right into the world building and the premise and see where it took me. And then it took me Outside.

I think my view of where the book went down hill is already covered in Sparrow's Review -- and the whole review is worth a read - when she says:

Luckily, said ugly teens (particularly our protagonist, Tally, through her bff, Shay) discover that if they flee to the wilderness, they will be able to live a life of freedom and romance. Oh, what's that? Did I say "romance"? Thanks again Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ralph Waldo Emerson, et al. Sometimes when characters go out into the wilderness . . . I don't even know. Does the phrase "it's been done" even begin to cover my feelings on that topic? Thus begins the cat-fight between Tally and Shay that is the uniting thread of this entire series. You see, there is a wilderness boy (imagine my surprise), who is quite a catch even though he's "ugly", and there's some jealousy and betrayal and kick-ass hoverboarding. You get the idea.

It was at this point in the book when I had to remind myself "you are not the target audience. you are not the target audience." So, bit of a crash and burn, mood-killer there. I would have quite happily kept reading about Tally venturing on following clues for far more of the book. That was the best part! (BIAS ALERT! I just re-read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon as a comfort book so girl-alone-in-the-wilderness-trekking = WIN!) Once the reach "outside" everything speeds up with the rapidness common to YA fiction and everyone is in love and secrets revealed and all of that after about 2 days of knowing someone. You'd think cautious people would be cautious, but no!

The plot is forwarded due to DRAMA (it really is, had Tally acted like a rational intelligent person instead of FULL OF DRAMA there'd be no more story. Or, at least, not this story. don't want to spoiler you.) and that always sort of annoys me (see: "not the target audience") and then there is an almost entirely improbable Giant Escape and then ... cliffhanger ending!

If I would have read this book years ago, I might have liked it more. It's definitely not even close to being some of the best YA dystopian stuff out there, but it's certainly not the worst (although the second book looks like it is shaping up to be!). I'd recommend this if only if you are jonesing for some YA dystopian stuff AND you aren't paying 10 bucks for it...
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