Sunday, January 22, 2006
Westerfeld, Scott. 2005. UGLIES. New York: Simon Pulse. ISBN 0689865384 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]
Set three to four hundred years in the future, UGLIES, a dystopia, focuses on a global community of pretty people. Tally Youngblood introduces readers to this picture-perfect community where appearances are not a matter of one’s genes but a matter of extensive plastic surgeries planned by the Community of Morphological Standards. Tally and Shay are best friends awaiting their sixteenth birthdays and their surgeries after which they’ll leave Uglyville behind and join the New Pretties. But Shay doubts that the ‘Pretty Committee’ is as concerned with equality and justice as it appears, suspecting that ulterior motives may lay behind the surface. On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, Shay runs away leaving a cryptic message for her friend to find the way to ‘Smoke,’ the rebel community of “ugly” outsiders. When the authorities discover Shay’s disappearance, Tally is asked to make the hardest decision of her life: betray Shay and the rebel community to the authorities or face living life ugly.
UGLIES is a fast-paced novel taking a typical YA topic—self esteem, conformity, and the perception of beauty—and treating it in a new and ultimately satisfying way by speculating about where current values of beauty and perfection might lead us as a society if taken to the extreme. By setting UGLIES in the future instead of a contemporary high school, Westerfeld is able to provide reflection and commentary on a serious topic in a new and original way.
Scott Westerfeld was inspired to write UGLIES after reading a short story “Liking What You See: A Documentary” by Ted Chiang which was published in STORIES OF YOUR LIFE AND OTHERS. Have teens read Chiang’s short story and compare it to Westerfeld’s trilogy of novels.
Books for young adults by Scott Westerfeld
Westerfeld, Scott. PRETTIES. ISBN 0689865392
Westerfeld, Scott. SO YESTERDAY. 159514000X
By Becky Laney