You know I can’t pass up a young adult dystopian series and since my students have been telling me for a few years that I needed to read Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, I felt it was finally time.
This series has been out for a while (the first book came out in 2005) so I was able to breeze through all of them without the painfully-slow time crawl that is waiting for the next book in a series. Uglies is a story told from a post-America world where cities are run by beautiful people. Extremely beautiful people. And until you turn sixteen and can have that surgery that transforms you from an ugly to a pretty, you just bide your time waiting for your turn to be made remarkable.
That’s all Tally Youngblood has waited for, to become pretty and bubbly and carefree. But in the months leading up to her sixteenth birthday Tally meets Shay and everything changes. She learns about the people that have bucked the surgeries and are living in the wild as uglies. Without shame or desire to reconstruct their features to fit with society. And although Tally isn’t interested in that lifestyle, she cares about Shay and is suddenly sucked in to situations outside of her control.
And when Tally is told she can’t have the pretty surgery until she brings missing Shay home, things get serious fast.
It took me a while to get into the first book, Uglies. The characters are purposefully shallow and superficial, but even then I couldn’t find a reason or need to connect with them. It wasn’t until Tally got out of the city and started hunting for Shay that I cared about the book. By the end, I was hooked and had to read the second one (Pretties).
Pretties and the third book, Specials, seemed to drag on a little bit. I had to know how the story ended even though by the third book I was just suffering my way through as opposed to enjoying it. I was often distracted by the dumb characters and slow plot. As an adult reading young adult literature, I understand that sometimes I won’t enjoy it on the same level a young adult would, but I’m still a sucker for a love story or a love triangle (!!) and even with that, I couldn’t muster too much concern for the characters by the end. Which is a bummer since I wanted to love this series. I wanted to love it because so many of my students love it and I wanted to be able to rave about it once school started again, but I just don’t think I can fake it with this one.
What do you think? Have you read the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld? Do you agree with me or am I being too critical? Also, complete side note but did you notice how often the author used the word “purchase” as in “Tally was able to find purchase in the side of the mountain” and was it extremely annoying to you too? Please say yes. I was so distracted by it.
(P.S. There is a fourth book, Extras, to this series also but I haven’t read it and have no intention of picking it up. But I felt like you should know just in case you pick Uglies up and get sucked in to it.)