oracne - Victoria Janssen (oracne) wrote,
oracne - Victoria Janssen

Westerfeld, UGLIES

Uglies, Scott Westerfeld

Another YA, this dystopian sf book at first doesn't seem dystopian, since for once the point of view character is not rebelling against her society, in fact wants very much to be a part of it. In this world, everyone is surgically made "pretty" when their bodies have finished growing, supposedly so all people will be equal as far as looks, and indeed the protagonist, Tally, cannot conceive how skin color was once a divisive marker. "Pretties" are smooth-skinned, big-eyed, symmetrical; they have all the signs of childlike vulnerability which I found a bit creepy. Tally's new friend Shay also finds Prettiness a bit creepy, and in fact doesn't want to be Pretty at all.

It's obvious this book deals with Issues: self-esteem, lookism, etc., but the only preachiness is when Tally is mouthing the things she's heard all her life, and we the reader know she's mostly wrong. Or at least, I hope we do.

Since the book is from the perspective of a sixteen year old girl, we don't get much of the rest of the society; it isn't relevant to her story. We see a few "middle pretties" but don't see "crumblies" who go into the hospital for life extension treatments. I was curious to see how well Prettiness aged. I also had questions about the economy of this society, but I didn't actively need to have them answered; I was reading this as a thought experiement, like Brave New World.

Of course it turns out there is a community of people who fled before they were made Pretty, and we get to see how they live. But the part I really liked, really thought was creepy, was when we go back to the land of the Pretties afterwards, because everything there seems that much more terrifyingly false. The sequel, Pretties, ought to be interesting.

Tags: books, sf/f, ya

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