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Pretties (Uglies, #2)
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Previous BRs - Authors; U - Z > Westerfeld, Scott - Pretties (Uglies #2) - Informal Buddy Read; Start August 23, 2015

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This topic is open for discussion about Pretties by Scott Westerfeld



Book synopsis:
Gorgeous. Popular. Perfect.

Perfectly wrong.

Tally has finally become pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot, and she's completely popular. It's everything she's ever wanted.

But beneath all the fun -- the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom -- is a nagging sense that something's wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally's ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what's wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold.

Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life -- because the authorities don't intend to let anyone with this information survive.


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message 4: by LB (new) - rated it 3 stars

LB (raceforthepuck) | 228 comments Was anyone still interested in doing this buddy read? I'm about 80 pages in and would love to discuss it if so =)


Emily (emilythebooknerd) | 1388 comments I am! I'm up to Part 2. I'll post some thoughts in just a minute :)


message 6: by LB (new) - rated it 3 stars

LB (raceforthepuck) | 228 comments Up to "Note to Self" (page 88)

Who do you all think is on the cover? After reading Uglies, I thought it might be David (or maybe Peris now that Tally has gone back to get the operation). But now that I've gotten the introduction into Pretties, I'm thinking it might be Zane. Do you think we'll see David again now that Tally is Pretty?

Who did you think was "following" Tally at the party? (view spoiler)

What do you think of Zane so far? I was definitely surprised by the new character, (view spoiler), but I really like him! He's so different from what you would expect from a Pretty, which definitely adds some interest to the air brained Pretties in New Pretty Town.

What do you think in general so far?


message 7: by Emily (last edited Aug 23, 2015 04:30PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Emily (emilythebooknerd) | 1388 comments Up to Part 2 (pg. 98/ 24%)
I'm finding this ok so far. Decently entertaining, but definitely lacking in depth. I was hoping for some more insight into this world and into how being "pretty" and surrounded by only other pretties would warp a person's perceptions about him/herself, others, the community, attraction and love, etc.
It's interesting to read from the point of view of Tally now that she has the brain lesions. How they've impacted her and changed her personality, attitudes, and priorities. However, I'm not sure the effects of the lesions in this book make a lot of scientific sense or are even internally consistent in this book's world. (view spoiler)
(view spoiler)
Zane is an intriguing character- (view spoiler) So far I like him, much more than David. (The way David got between Tally and Shay without regard for the damage he was doing to their friendship in book 1 really bothered me.) Do you like David or Zane better?
I'm finding the slang to be really annoying. I know the author is trying to make the world more authentic by including such details, but could the characters use "bubbly" more often? It's like the only adjective in the new pretties' vocabulary! And it seems to have somewhat different meanings in different situations, which is confusing. Plus some of the other slang just seems like bad grammar.


message 8: by Emily (last edited Aug 24, 2015 12:15AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Emily (emilythebooknerd) | 1388 comments Elise wrote: "Up to "Note to Self" (page 88)

Who do you all think is on the cover? After reading Uglies, I thought it might be David (or maybe Peris now that Tally has gone back to get the operation). But no..."


My guess would also be that it's Zane on the cover. Although that person, while attractive, isn't quite as "pretty" as I picture Zane, so maybe it is David.

(view spoiler)
(view spoiler)


message 9: by LB (new) - rated it 3 stars

LB (raceforthepuck) | 228 comments Emily wrote: "I was hoping for some more insight into this world and into how being "pretty" and surrounded by only other pretties would warp a person's perceptions about him/herself, others, the community, attraction and love, etc."

I think the lack of depth is part of the insight into the world (hopefully). As an Ugly, they are trained to only want to be a Pretty. And once they are a Pretty, they are programmed not to think of much at all. If the pill David & his mom & co were working on can work, maybe we can get more depth into the world as Tally cracks into the dystopian behind the world.


Emily wrote: "However, I'm not sure the effects of the lesions in this book make a lot of scientific sense or are even internally consistent in this book's world."

The only thing I could think of here is if the lesion is in a specific area of the brain, and thus certain activities or emotions can activate that area of the brain more, they could "override" the effects of the lesions. But you are definitely right, it's odd the selectiveness of what she can and can't remember.

(view spoiler)

I think I like Zane better too. David grew up in the Smoke, so he's never had to deal with the effects of being Pretty first hand. Zane, however, is a Pretty, and yet he loves being a Crim and trying to stay "bubbly" so he doesn't get sucked back into vapidness. I don't know who I like better with Tally; the forced love triangles in YA really bothers me sometimes, and this one seems like no exception. There wasn't much development for either one of the relationships, so it's hard to tell. But I definitely think Zane's character is more interesting right off the bat.



Emily wrote: "I'm finding the slang to be really annoying. I know the author is trying to make the world more authentic by including such details"

I think this is (hopefully) the intention of the author. Like when you are overhearing a group of people whose dialogue is so simple and repetitive it makes you roll your eyes. The Pretties are basically brainless, so I can understand the limited vocabulary. But it definitely gets annoying as you read (like Zane's rating system).


Emily wrote: "My guess would also be that it's Zane one the cover. Although that person, while attractive, isn't quite as "pretty" as I picture Zane, so maybe it is David."

The only reason I was leaning more to Zane is because he seems to have the stronger cheekbones and sharper features like Tally was talking about. But I agree with you there that he isn't my definition of "Pretty", of what I would expect for Zane.

(view spoiler)


message 10: by Emily (last edited Aug 24, 2015 12:16AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Emily (emilythebooknerd) | 1388 comments Elise wrote: "I think the lack of depth is part of the insight into the world (hopefully). As an Ugly, they are trained to only want to be a Pretty. And once they are a Pretty, they are programmed not to think of much at all. If the pill David & his mom & co were working on can work, maybe we can get more depth into the world as Tally cracks into the dystopian behind the world."

This is an excellent point, along with your thoughts on the author's intentions in using the slang. Maybe he's simply trying to immerse us in Tally's current experience as a pretty with the lesions living the limited life dictated by her society. Hopefully you're right, and more depth will come later in the book.


Elise said: "I don't know who I like better with Tally; the forced love triangles in YA really bothers me sometimes, and this one seems like no exception. There wasn't much development for either one of the relationships, so it's hard to tell. But I definitely think Zane's character is more interesting right off the bat."

I agree that neither of the relationships have progressed enough for us to judge who's right for Tally. Love triangles often drive me nuts, especially now that they're something every YA author seems to add, regardless of whether it adds to the story and character development (as opposed to just creating needless drama). This one makes a bit more sense to me though because Tally is in many ways a transformed person at this point and doesn't have many of her memories. She currently has different goals and desires, so liking a different boy is understandable. We will see where it goes if Tally gets cured of the lesions.
I feel like I know Zane better in some ways than we ever got to know David in Uglies. So in addition to being more interesting, I think Zane has had better character development.

(view spoiler)


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LB (raceforthepuck) | 228 comments Emily wrote: "I agree that neither of the relationships have progressed enough for us to judge who's right for Tally. Love triangles often drive me nuts, especially now that they're something every YA author seems to add, regardless of whether it adds to the story and character development (as opposed to just creating needless drama). This one makes a bit more sense to me though because Tally is in many ways a transformed person at this point and doesn't have many of her memories. She currently has different goals and desires, so liking a different boy is understandable. We will see where it goes if Tally gets cured of the lesions.
I feel like I know Zane better in some ways than we ever got to know David in Uglies. So in addition to being more interesting, I think Zane has had better character development."


I love this point! Love triangles generally drive me nuts as well as a lot of them seem so forced and unnecessary. Plus, we're usually talking about 16 - 18 year old kids, and most of them, if they were real, wouldn't even know the first thing about what love really means.

Tally's transition into a friendship/relationship with Zane seems natural here, especially with the one month gap of time we're missing where they've gotten closer and gotten to know each other while Tally hangs with the Crims. With David, his characterization was mainly his backstory, revolving around his importance to the Smoke and his parents' history. Zane actually gets some character depth, with his desire to unPretty himself (or at least his mind) and the reasoning behind it.


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LB (raceforthepuck) | 228 comments Up to "The Dragon" pg 128

What do you think is happening to Zane? (view spoiler)

I picked a great spot to stop for the night! (view spoiler)


message 13: by Emily (last edited Aug 24, 2015 10:40PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Emily (emilythebooknerd) | 1388 comments Up to "The Dragon" (pg. 128/ 31%)

I'm not sure if I love the fact that it jumped a month ahead, just because it left me slightly confused and with unanswered questions. (view spoiler) Maybe also we're supposed to figure this out from contextual clues as we go along, but I would have preferred to be given more information at the start of this section.

I'm not sure what's going on with Zane. (view spoiler) Sorry for such a long response- you're probably sorry you asked now ;)

(view spoiler)

Why do you think (view spoiler)


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LB (raceforthepuck) | 228 comments Emily wrote: "I'm not sure if I love the fact that it jumped a month ahead, just because it left me slightly confused and with unanswered questions."


I think it probably jumped ahead to cut out a lot of filler of them slowly transitioning. But it definitely same as a shock to me that we'd lost all that time. (view spoiler) I'm an engineer, so I completely understand your inclination towards looking at it like a scientific study. =)

It will be interesting to see what Special Circumstances is after. (view spoiler)

I think it was for the reasons he said, but I think he's hiding the fact that (view spoiler)


Emily (emilythebooknerd) | 1388 comments Up to Part III (pg. 234/ 57%)

Well, what Dr. Cable wanted was certainly enlightening in some ways! (view spoiler)

I hate to say it, but Shay had some very valid points (view spoiler) Tally is not my favorite character. She's often fairly shallow, immature, petty, and self-centered. I can certainly forgive her some of it because of her age and societal conditioning, but not all of it. Like in the first book when David went off with his mother to grieve and Tally wanted to follow and intrude because she didn't like being separated from him and was insecure (at least that was my reading of it)- that really bugged me. However, I am liking her in this book better than I did in the first. (view spoiler)

The story has definitely gotten some more depth of ideas at this point, which I enjoy. Like the exploration of whether some people actually would be happier being "pretty-minded"- without stress, worry, fear, anger, anxiety, etc. Do you think that's true? Would many people (view spoiler) do you think? Do some people in our society choose to be essentially "pretty-minded"?


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LB (raceforthepuck) | 228 comments Up to Part III (pg 237)

Emily wrote: "Well, what Dr. Cable wanted was certainly enlightening in some ways! [spoilers removed]"

It certainly wasn't what I was expecting either! I was thinking something along the lines of the same old, same old - blackmail, etc. (view spoiler)

I think Shay is both right and just a tad bit wrong. As Zane points out, they didn't exactly have time to stop and ponder over it with the Specials on their heels. That being said, I agree with Shay. Tally is selfish, though I think she has grown leaps and bounds since the beginning of the series. But she does seem to get absorbed in whatever relationship is currently the most important to her. At the beginning of Uglies, she wanted to be Pretty so she could be with Peris again, just like when they were Uglies. Then, as soon as she got to the Smoke, she spent almost all her time with David. And now, the pattern continues with Zane.

What did you think of the whole machine shop/hot air balloon scenes? It definitely was a handful of action packed scenes there. (view spoiler) It's sad, but I know a lot of people think that way about any number of different situations. That's why it takes so long for people to make progress (like the freedom for slaves, equal rights for women and minorities, etc), because people find it just easier to give up than to keep fighting, even if it's wrong. I think we'd be surprised by how many people would make the same decision he made and would want to be "pretty-minded"


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LB (raceforthepuck) | 228 comments Finished/The End

What did you think about the conservation area part? It seemed a little weird to me and out of place in the plot/flow of the story. I can kind of see the use behind it, but it just didn't feel all the way thought out. For example, (view spoiler)

I loved the irony in Tally's comment (view spoiler)

How do you think the situation between David/Zane/Tally was handled? (view spoiler)

And how about Zane's bombshell about (view spoiler)

Overall, I definitely enjoyed Uglies better. I think Pretties is still okay, and it had a bit of action and even some suspense in it, but it felt a bit dragged out at points, and even though a lot of the story came together as it went, there were still noticeable plot holes as well (and repetition from the first novel).


Emily (emilythebooknerd) | 1388 comments Elise wrote: "I think Shay is both right and just a tad bit wrong...."
Yeah, I'm not saying everything Shay said was completely correct, just that she had some valid points.

I thought the machine shop/hot air balloon scenes was a good sequence. Although one thing that bothered me: Wouldn't pouring champagne on a fire fuel it, not put it out, since champagne is alcohol?
It also seemed strange and convenient to the plot that (view spoiler)


Up to "The Ruins" (pg. 317/ 76%) - Sorry that I've fallen behind! (As a result, I haven't read all of your latest post, not wanting to spoile myself. I will as soon as I finish.)

It seems clear that (view spoiler) And yet there is no mention of it at all, which seems a cop out to me on an important aspect of a relationship, of growing up, etc. I'm not saying it should have taken over the book, but in my opinion, it also shouldn't have been avoided. And I'm curious if it made them "bubbly" or "pretty-headed" ;)

When (view spoiler) she sees in them, "The same awe and eagerness to please, the same instinctive fascination— the sure result of a century of cosmetic engineering and a million years of evolution." That we are evolutionarily predisposed to react to beauty in certain positive ways is a recurring theme in the series. Like in the first book, Tally says: "There was something magic in [the new pretties'] large and perfect eyes, something that made you want to pay attention to whatever they said, to protect them from any danger, to make them happy." (And there are plenty more examples, like how the middle pretties have an almost magical aura of authority and wisdom.)
To what degree do you think beauty and appearance play a role in how we interact with others? Obviously, it plays a large role in who we want to date, and there are evolutionary reasons why we are sexually attracted to some people more than others. But do you think it goes beyond that? Do we treat beautiful people as almost godlike?
I wish the author gave us a bit more insight into the actual science behind this theme, as I'm curious about why as humans we are very attracted to beauty (both that of the human form and of other things like art and nature).

(view spoiler)
(view spoiler)

I liked this quote: (view spoiler) A great argument for reading!


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LB (raceforthepuck) | 228 comments Emily wrote: "I thought the machine shop/hot air balloon scenes was a good sequence. Although one thing that bothered me: Wouldn't pouring champagne on a fire fuel it, not put it out, since champagne is alcohol?."

Maybe if it was low, low, low proof champagne the water would outwork the alcohol and put it out (now I kind of want to test this at home, MythBusters style!). But given the fact that alcohol is one of the tools they use to help cloud Pretties' minds and judgments, they probably aren't using watered down champagne. So that's a good point.


Emily wrote: "It seems clear that (view spoiler) And yet there is no mention of it at all, which seems a cop out to me on an important aspect of a relationship, of growing up, etc. I'm not saying it should have taken over the book, but in my opinion, it also shouldn't have been avoided. And I'm curious if it made them "bubbly" or "pretty-headed" ;)"

Yeah, back when this book was written/published (a decade ago, I can't believe it. I'm getting old!), I think young adult fiction (view spoiler).


Emily wrote: "To what degree do you think beauty and appearance play a role in how we interact with others? Obviously, it plays a large role in who we want to date, and there are evolutionary reasons why we are sexually attracted to some people more than others. But do you think it goes beyond that? Do we treat beautiful people as almost godlike?"

I think it plays a large role, more than it should. I remember a study we read about in psychology class way back when that showed that even babies are prewired to think this way. They gravitated towards pictures of faces/people with more symmetry in their faces, and for certain specific features/characteristics in a face. Isn't that crazy? That's always blown my mind. And yes, I think it goes beyond that as well. Look at our entertainment industry (at least here in the States). They are some of the highest grossing paid professionals, and the vast majority of them are "beautiful" - a lot of time post-surgery wise (and a lot of the others, as Westerfeld humorously pointed out in Uglies, are comedians). A lot of people are literally OBSESSED with following these peoples every moves, be it through reality TV, magazines/tabloids, and social media galore. I doubt otherwise that the Kardashians would ever have become famous.

(view spoiler)

That is definitely a great quote! I think it's a bit of social commentary on today's society as well, where we are sitting at the TV or computer, worshipping a bunch of bogus celebrities. I would much rather worship a book! =)


Emily (emilythebooknerd) | 1388 comments Finished/ End

Elise wrote: "I loved the irony in Tally's comment..."
You're right; that is very ironic! (Though I didn't pick up on it.) Tally seems to have this ability (one that's found in many heroines) to (fairly inexplicably) generate great devotion, without being overly loyal herself.

I thought Tally's reaction to the David/Zane situation was fairly well done. She seemed realistically conflicted. (view spoiler)
I agree that the dialogue in that section was immature- but I've found all the dialogue and writing to be a bit simplistic.

To be honest, I didn't find Zane's revelation to be much of a bombshell. (view spoiler)
(view spoiler)
(view spoiler)

My ultimate opinions on Pretties are very similar to those I had about Uglies. However, I actually think I enjoyed Pretties a little bit more. Probably because I like Zane better than David, and I found Tally less difficult to like in this book.


message 21: by LB (last edited Aug 29, 2015 05:25AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

LB (raceforthepuck) | 228 comments Emily wrote: "I thought Tally's reaction to the David/Zane situation was fairly well done. She seemed realistically conflicted. (view spoiler)"

(view spoiler)

To me, Shay is just this means to move plot along (I agree with you 100%!). She's never really developed as a character, and it's hard to get a read on her, as she's always changing to suit the mood of the author for what he wants to use her as a tool for. I completely agree it makes her seem schizophrenic. And I do have a hard time empathizing with Shay sometimes, because it never seems like she knows what she wants or what she believes in!


Do you have any interest in doing a buddy read of Specials?


message 22: by Emily (last edited Aug 29, 2015 02:49PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Emily (emilythebooknerd) | 1388 comments I like the way you think- that would make a great MythBusters style expirement! =)

I think you're right- thinking back, I also seem to remember YA books of that period (I'm like a year or two older than you) (view spoiler)

That study about the babies and facial symmetry is crazy! You'd think that babies would be most attracted to faces that looked similar to those of their parents (aka those most likely to be family members). I think the theory is that facial symmetry is attractive because it is generally a sign of a healthier individual with better genes. So maybe the babies are attracted to beautiful individuals because, being healthier, they could theoretically better take care of a baby? Just a thought.
All the talk about (view spoiler) also made me think of celebrities in our culture. I've never fully understood the appeal of following their every move, but lots of people do. They are treated like royalty (minus the political power), and a large percentage of the reason is their appearance. And yet, when Tally saw celebrities in the magazines in Uglies, she still didn't find them to be "pretty". A thought I had while reading Uglies was that while everyone is pretty, the operation would erase a lot of the actual beauty in individuals. IMO, really beautiful people are often somewhat exotic or unusual looking. Take, oh say, Julia Roberts. Her lips and mouth are totally out of normal proportions and thus would be eliminated by the pretty operation, but they're part of what make her so beautiful.

You make a very good point about Zane and how he was probably feeling at that point.

Exactly, about Shay. You're right- she's hard to empathize with, despite the fact that she's been through a lot and has some legitimate grievances.

I was reading this review of Uglies: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... I thought she made some interesting points in the third main paragraph about how despite the author's apparent message that appearance doesn't matter, he undermines that message with his continued focus on the characters' looks and use of "ugly" and "pretty". I'm not saying I agree that it completely diminishes the message, but it does bug me that Talky and the rest of the characters continue to call normal people ugly. How is a reader (especially a YA reader) supposed to feel realizing that according to Tally, he or she is ugly?

Sent you a message about doing Specials :)


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LB (raceforthepuck) | 228 comments Emily wrote: "I think you're right- thinking back, I also seem to remember YA books of that period (I'm like a year or two older than you) (view spoiler)."

I remember the first time I read Judy Blume's Forever (I think was the title) in my late middle school/early high school years. My innocent little eyes were shocked! Hahahaha. And then my friend, who also loved reading, picked it up while she was over and was flipping through it. She turned to me and was like "There are people having sex in this book!" I think we as a society have come pretty far in the past decade or so with regards to that, where it isn't such a shock anymore. I'm not sure if that's such a good thing for preteens/early teens or not (I was raised sooooo prudish hahaha), but I definitely agree we shouldn't be so afraid to write about it for young adults (it's not like they don't know about it!)


Emily wrote: "You'd think that babies would be most attracted to faces that looked similar to those of their parents (aka those most likely to be family members)"

I know they definitely recognize their mother's face early on too, and gravitate toward it as well. I can't remember about the father, but I believe the same holds true there.


Emily wrote: " I've never fully understood the appeal of following their every move, but lots of people do. They are treated like royalty (minus the political power), and a large percentage of the reason is their appearance. And yet, when Tally saw celebrities in the magazines in Uglies, she still didn't find them to be "pretty". A thought I had while reading Uglies was that while everyone is pretty, the operation would erase a lot of the actual beauty in individuals. IMO, really beautiful people are often somewhat exotic or unusual looking. Take, oh say, Julia Roberts. Her lips and mouth are totally out of normal proportions and thus would be eliminated by the pretty operation, but they're part of what make her so beautiful."

I'm the same way. I don't need to know which celebrity is getting engaged to/started dating/getting married to/getting divorced from which other celebrity... I have a hard enough time keeping up with my own relationship! And yet, the magazines and blogs and even television shows that follow that are staggering! I certainly don't need to know where movie stars and actors are eating/which events they are going to/etc., but that is huge in the "journalism" industry these days. Instead of celebrities, my Twitter feed is full of rovers and probes and science centers in the ESA and NASA lol. And I agree with you too, especially about Julia Roberts. The same was true for Courtney Arquette before she went and got plastic surgery done (now it's a little sad).


Emily wrote: "I thought she made some interesting points in the third main paragraph about how despite the author's apparent message that appearance doesn't matter, he undermines that message with his continued focus on the characters' looks and use of "ugly" and "pretty". I'm not saying I agree that it completely diminishes the message, but it does bug me that Talky and the rest of the characters continue to call normal people ugly."

Yeah, that bugged me some too. I think maybe it comes down to even when we start to maybe think differently and open up to new ideas/philosophies, it takes us a while to let go of the prejudices we've had all our lives (which is the case for Tally and say, how she views David in Uglies and Pretties). But I'm not sure I took the same meaning from it when I was a YA/teenager.


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