This is a three book post because I held off reviewing the first two on the blog until I’d read the final book in the trilogy, Specials, which I did yesterday. I’m going to briefly review each book, then give an overarching review of the the theme that climaxes in the final novel. I will also try to do this without giving anything away that isn’t on the blurb of any of the jackets.
Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license – for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.
But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all.
The choice Tally makes changes her world forever…
In a world where people are segregated into Uglies and at 16 surgically turned into Pretties and moved into a town across the water, Westerfeld does a brilliant job of exploring our obsessions with perfection. It’s a world in the future where our generation have already had their turn on the planet and failed. As you’d expect in a novel like this, there is a dark secret lurking beneath the pretty exterior though and one that leaves you cold, but could easily be imagined if you believe the world you are reading into.
I know it’s a YA book, but some of the language used was repetitive and childish. The use of Uglies and Pretties was fair enough, but then there were crumblies for old people, littlies for young, rusties for our generation and so on. Everything ending in IES.. BUT then there were beautiful sentences in there – “Don’t worry Tally” she whispered, putting one elegant finger to her lips. “Your ugly little secret is safe with me.” – A sentence that holds so much more than it lets on unless you read the book.
It is a great concept for a series.
Tally has finally become ‘pretty’. Her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are cool, her boyfriend’s gorgeous, and she’s completely popular. It’s everything she’s ever wanted. But beneath all the fun is a nagging feeling that something’s wrong.
The second book and though there were the same issues as with the first in that I had some issue with some of the terminology, I had to move past that and recognise that I was an adult reading a book aimed at teenagers.
The concept behind the trilogy is just brilliant and Pretties carries on where Uglies left off, only now Tally is a Pretty.
What I like about it is the depth of the topics covered. This is especially evident in Pretties when Tally leaves Pretty town (I told you the terminology is weird) and ends up a reservation. In a couple of sentences Westerfeld has you wondering in some depth about what is human nature really all about and how should we go about saving the planet and at what cost?
It’s a great book if you can just leave your adult self at the door and read about a future that is, well…
Specials by Scott Westerfeld
Now Tally’s become one of them: a superamped fighting machine, engineered to keep Uglies down and Pretties stupid. The strength, the speed and the clarity of her new powers feel amazing… most of the time. One tiny corner of Tally’s heart still remembers something different.
When she’s offered the chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke, she is forced to make one last choice: carry out the mission, or listen to that faint yet persistent heartbeat telling her that something’s wrong…
This third book is the culmination of the trilogy and it doesn’t let you down. In fact I was glad I had held on and gritted my teeth with what had slightly irritated me with the previous books. At the start, Westerfeld thanks his fans for writing to him and telling him what was right and what was wrong with the book and what made them want to throw the book across the room and after reading it I wondered if some of the phrasing had been mentioned because it had been toned down. It couldn’t have been taken out because that was his world building, but it was definitely toned down somewhat.
This book definitely has a more YA feel, than older children’s feel about it, with its themes. Themes that any adult wouldn’t be hurt in thinking about a little more often. It’s all wrapped up in the shiny wrapping paper of what people look like, but underneath there are some real issues and difficult choices. Yes it’s about being shallow and labeling people based on their looks, but it’s also about decisions made in an attempt to protect the planet, or a perceived attempt and an attempt that involves the most drastic of measures at that. By the end of the book you will be asking yourself, if you love the planet, how far is too far, and can balance and order be kept? We’re not doing a very good job of protecting the planet at the moment are we….
A brilliantly done trilogy covering deep topics for a YA audience. I’d advise sitting down to read all three books in one go!