My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies was one of those books I’d been hearing about for ages, and I’ll cheerily admit that glancing at the blurbs on it and the other books in the series in a bookstore did pique my interest. I did not, however, get a chance to read this one until it was handed out briefly for free in PDF form as part of a promotion for Westerfeld’s book Leviathan.
Survey says: less complex than I would have liked, which so far I find is the risk I run when I delve into YA. On the surface, there’s decent worldbuilding here in a sort of Logan’s Run-like, futuristic setting where every member of society is given an operation at age 16 to turn them into a “pretty”. Tally, about to turn 16, is ardently looking forward to her turn, since the transition means she’ll have no responsibilities for a while and will get to indulge in non-stop parties and fun.
This being a dystopian setting, though, she naturally finds out that not everybody is as enthused about becoming pretty as they should be. When her best friend escapes the city in search of a hidden enclave of people led by a couple of doctors who have discovered disturbing truths about the operation, Tally is forced to go after her and infiltrate the enclave as a spy.
All of which is a tasty little core of a story, to be sure. That said, I frequently found the worldbuilding thinner than I would have liked even as I appreciated the base concepts. Same deal with the characterizations of most of the cast. Tally read for me as too simplistic, and I couldn’t really nail down whether this was because it was a YA novel and therefore less complex than I prefer, or simply because Tally as a teenaged girl was being portrayed believably as a teenaged girl. Her primary motivation is at first of course to be a pretty–which seems reasonable for all the young people in her society, since that’s what they have drummed into their heads. But even afterward, as she starts cluing in to what’s going on, she is wishy-washy about committing to changing things, and half the time only seems interested in doing so because she’s attracted to the son of the doctors who run their little colony.
Overall though I did like the read, and I’ll probably be buying this sooner or later to get a proper copy, as well as continuing the series to see what happens next. There is a cliffhanger, and it got me well enough that yeah, I’m in for more. Three stars.