Uglies Readalong: Uglies (Book 1)

Hey, squiders! Guess who finally finished the book? And only two weeks late.

For those of you just joining us, we’ll be reading the Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, with the option of reading the fourth book depending on how the first three go.

The trilogy came out about fifteen years ago, and takes place in a dystopian future where, on their 16th birthday, everyone becomes a “pretty”–they go through an extensive surgery that reshapes their body so everyone is equally pretty, in theory equalizing everyone across the board.

Our main character is Tally Youngblood, who we meet a few months out from her 16th birthday. Her best friend has just become pretty, so she’s feeling lonely and desperately counting down the days until she becomes pretty too and can join her friend in New Pretty Town. Before you become pretty, you are an ugly, and they all live together in dorms in a place called Uglyville.

Yes, it’s on the nose, but it’s meant to be.

Tally sneaks out to New Pretty Town to see her friend and almost gets caught—Uglies aren’t allowed—but during her escape, she makes a new friend named Shay, who coincidentally has the same birthday as her. Shay and Tally find solace in each other, but Shay’s not quite as excited about turning as Tally is. She keeps taking Tally outside of the city, and talking about a place where you don’t have to turn pretty.

Is this a pretty form YA dystopia? I mean, yes. Yes it is. It came out in the same era as The Hunger Games and Divergent and all that jazz (actually a little before, so it’s an early contender in the genre). It’s got a lot of the same beats, but those beats aren’t necessarily bad. There’s a reason all these series were so successful.

As I’ve said in earlier blog posts, I had some difficulty relating to Tally, which made my progress slower than expected. It’s hard, as a fully-grown adult, to connect with someone whose sole purpose is to wait until she becomes pretty, and who puts so much emphasis on this procedure. It makes sense why she does, with the world-building and everything, but there’s not a lot of common ground there. Once we got about half way into the book and Tally’s motivations change, I found it much easier to keep going.

The book ends on a cliffhanger, as expected, but I’m interested in the twist (in this case, why this seemingly utopian society is in fact a dystopia—really the cornerstone of the entire genre and so hit or miss) and I’m looking forward to seeing how the story develops in Pretties.

How did you guys feel about it? How do you feel about the society when compared to other, similar dystopias?

We’ll read Pretties for April 27. I’m hoping the second book goes faster now that I’m invested.

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