Friday, 12 February 2016
UGLIES TRILOGY by Scott Westerfeld
Simon & Schuster Childrens Books. (Ages 11 and up)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
The Uglies book series, intended for young adults, was actually recommended to me by my grandma. Now, although this might make you think, “boring”, and that this series must then be some weird old classic, I assure you it isn’t. Firstly, my grandma tends to pick good and modern books, and secondly she actually found out about this series from one of her high school students.
Something I like about all the books in this series is that the main character, Tally Youngblood, is very, very far from perfect. Most of the time I dislike or hate her, and if we had met we probably wouldn’t have become friends. For me, this means that when Tally does do something good, it feels much more real and impressive, because you understand how hard it is for her. This also means that you feel like you are there with her on her rocky journey between right and wrong all the way.
This series tells about the experiences of Tally, who lives in a future society where everyone is split into two groups: the Uglies and the Pretties. The Uglies series includes three books which document the lives of Tally and her peers: Uglies, Pretties, and Specials. (You may note that Scott Westerfeld also added a fourth book to this “trilogy”, Extras, but I think it does not mesh well with the others and therefore do not review it here.) Until the age of sixteen everyone lives as an Ugly, waiting for the day when they can be transformed into a Pretty, and look however they want to. However, there is also a group of people who want to keep their own faces and think that changing people into Pretties on their sixteenth birthday is wrong. In this series, Tally experiences friendship, love, betrayal and having to figure out -- and choose between -- right and wrong.
Although this series is set in a fictional, futuristic society, it seems to be a commentary on our own social values. I think that the writer is trying to make a point about the way we view beauty nowadays and almost warn us about what will happen if we don’t change. It makes me wonder if with us already having Botox and plastic surgery we’ll be living in a world like in the Uglies series a few centuries from now. With the value put on beauty already, and people already striving to look like what someone says is perfect, I wouldn’t be surprised if that did happen. I think that the books show that we need to get our priorities straight. At the moment women, at least, put beauty before everything else (jobs, doing well at school, and even their own happiness). This, of course, is wrong. I mean, where does Botox and plastic surgery and make-up really get us in life? It doesn’t make us rich or happy, and it doesn’t even give us love (well, not the real kind at least). Most of the people who get their appearances changed, probably don’t even want to, and only do so because society would look down on them otherwise. This links directly to the Uglies series where everyone is forced to completely change how they look and act, whether they want to or not, to please their leaders and peers. At the moment, we are trying to change all this so our world doesn’t end up like the way it is in Uglies. For example, new Barbies are coming out that are curvy, tall and short, with diverse hairstyles, which are supposed to better represent people in the world around us. However, they will all still have perfect features and are extremely beautiful, therefore making it still seem as though there’s something wrong with looking anything less than perfect. Although these new Barbies help address the problem of young girls getting concerned with their weight and height because of Barbies, it doesn’t help the case of too many people smothering their faces with Makeup and even reassembling their faces with Botox and plastic surgery. In my opinion, changing Barbie is only the very beginning of what we need to do to protect our world from becoming like it is in Uglies.
My favorite book from this series was Pretties because I think that Tally has to make the hardest choice in this book. In Uglies she doesn’t really know what it’s like to be a pretty yet, and she has more reasons for holding back and escaping with the Smokies, like her best friend Shay. Also, in Specials she doesn’t even really have to make that choice, because instead she gets to become something even better and stronger. However, in Pretties she has her best friend with her, gets a new, pretty boyfriend, and overall she knows how easy and fun it is to be a mindless pretty. Anyway, I think that this makes the second book especially interesting, because you can’t tell what her choices will be, and, to be honest, I’m not so sure I would make the right choice if I were in her position.
My favorite character has to be Tally’s best friend Shay. This is because I feel like she’s always trying to be good, and help her friend Tally, but ends up messing up instead. I also feel like she doesn’t get enough credit for everything she does, and is sometimes just viewed as a sidekick. I think if I wanted to make the series better I would focus a bit more on her.
Tally Youngblood reminds me very much of the main characters in two other books I’ve read: Katniss Everdeen (from “The Hunger Games series) and Beatrice Prior (from the Divergent series). All three of these characters are living in a futuristic world, and start off either poor, ugly, boring, or somehow inferior to the rest of society. Then they go through a sort of build up time where they make both right and wrong choices, on their way from being frightened young girls to becoming strong leaders. Although all three characters intrigue me, I have to say that Katniss Everdeen is my favorite because I feel like even though she probably went through the hardest time of all three characters, she managed to stay strong all the way through.
I think that you should be at least twelve to read this book or else you might not understand it and see it’s hidden metaphors, however if you are younger you will probably still enjoy it. I really enjoyed this series so I think that it definitely deserves four and a half out of five stars.