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Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Title Uglies
Author Scott Westerfeld
Publisher Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Year 2005
ISBN 0689865384

Teaser/Reader Annotation Tally is looking forward with great anticipation to the day she turns sixteen and will undergo the operation to transform from an “ugly” to a “pretty.” As she finds out more about the dark side of the society she lives in, however, she begins to question all she was brought up knowing.

Plot Summary Uglies is the first book in what was originally a trilogy but has now expanded. Set in a future dystopian world, the story follows the story of Tally Youngblood, a fifteen-year-old girl awaiting her sixteenth birthday – the day she, like the rest of those in her society, will undergo cosmetic surgery to become a “pretty.” When Tally sneaks off to New Pretty Town to visit her best friend, a new “pretty” named Peris, she meets another “ugly” - Shay. Before Shay can be transformed, however, she runs away from society leaving Tally a note of instructions on how to follow her. When the time comes for Tally to have her operation she is intercepted by a group of “cruel pretties” who work with security. While working on the mission given to her by the girls, however, she meets and falls in love with David, the son of the founders of the rebel faction she was sent to track down. As she learns the secrets behind the operation Tally is faced with tough decisions and many lingering questions.

Critical Evaluation Though this is a large book for the young adult genre it reads very quickly. It is well-written and boasts an engaging plot with enough twists to keep even a reluctant reader interested. Readers will spend the book wondering how everything is accomplished and, about the time he or she gets frustrated, the big reveal takes place and sends the reader along yet another turn for more discoveries. The large draw to this book, however, is the exploration of themes worked through the entire novel. It deals with the big adolescent issues of physical and emotional change and the realization that not everything being taught is true. Uglies also brings up a number of hot current issues such as conformity, self-worth, and peer pressure. I thought these were especially powerful with the number of suicides and the themes of bullying and individuality that have been the focus of the education world this fall.

About the Author Scott Westerfeld is an American science-fiction writer. He was born May 5, 1963 in Texas but now splits his time between Sydney, Australia and New York City, New York.

His first novel, Evolution's Darling (2000), was a The New York Times Notable Book and won a Special Citation for the Philip K. Dick Award. Two of his other adult books, So Yesterday and The Secret Hour, have also won awards. Westerfeld's big success, however, was the Uglies series. His young adult books Uglies and Peeps were named “Best Books for Young Adults” in 2006 by the American Library Association.

Primary Genre Science-Fiction

Curriculum Ties English

Booktalking Ideas

1) What are some of the ways Westerfield explores the theme of peer pressure?

2) Imagine you were living in that society. Would you go through the operation to become a “pretty” or join Smoke?

Reading Level/Interest Age 12+

Challenge Issues Partying, Alcohol

1) Become familiar with book and its content.
2) Refer to library's collection policies.
3) Refer to reviews from School Library Journal, Amazon, and Barnes & Nobles.
4) Get reviews from teenagers who are familiar with the book.
5) Refer to the ALA Library Bill of Rights.

Why is it included? This is an extremely popular book series for young adults. It was a very long waiting list to get a copy of it. Upon reading it, I quickly figured out why and decided to include it in this collection.

Comments

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