Friday, 16 March 2012

YA Book Review: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld


By Scott Westerfeld

Published: Febuary 8th, 2005
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult
Series: First Book in the 'Uglies' series 
Format: Paperback
Pages: 425

Cover Art
I don't really feel much of anything about these covers. The book that I purchased has the cover on the left; it is OK, not terrible but definitely didn't catch my eye in the shop or make me have to have the book. Only after reading to you understand the significance of the hoverboard that is featured. I don't really like the middle cover as I am not a huge fan of photographs of people on covers...I think it's because I like my imagination to create what the characters look like not the publisher! The one on the right is also fairly average, although I do think this one would have got me more interested in the book if I'd seen it in a shop. It is a more visual representation of the premise of the book as well I think.

Plot Synopsis

This book focuses on a 15 year old girl called Tally Youngblood who is about to turn sixteen. When she does, she which will finally be eligible for the extreme cosmetic surgery which will make her a Pretty and she will be able to move from Uglyville into New Pretty Town, something she has wanted and dreamed of since she was a Littlie. However, things don't go to plan on her birthday and Tally ends up on an adventure crossing the wider world, where she realises that things weren't as simple as she thought they were and she starts to question everything she knew before.

My Rating

First Line

 'The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit'


I don't know about this book. I enjoyed it. I found it addictive. But it didn't really do it for me. It's not very...well imagined. Take all the plot holes in great YA like'The Hunger Games' and 'Divergent' and even 'Harry Potter' and multiply them by 20 and the result is this Swiss cheese of a novel. It's over simplified and the world is built on some very shaky foundations. 

What I liked about this book to begin with was the way the main character, Tally, isn't your typical 'special' protagonist who thinks a different way to everyone else around her and is a heroic figure right from the beginning. She is the opposite; she is completely indoctrinated with the values of Uglyville and truly wants to be Pretty. She is not too intelligent or too moral to have second thoughts; it is what everyone has been told they want since they are born and what will make them happy so, naturally, she wants it. I found this to be a fresh approach as it can be very frustrating in YA fiction to always have the protagonist as this angelic person who rises above everything their society believes in because they are better than everyone else. Tally is much more normal and relate-able. At least at first. 

I also liked the message of the book; that looking normal and natural is better than looking artificial and like everyone else. I am very against plastic surgery for purely cosmetic reasons and think it is a horrifying aspect of modern society that so many people believe they need it. People seem to believe that looking a certain way (usually changing facial or bodily features to fit in with the generally perceived idea of what is beautiful) will make them happier and more confident. It never does. You can never be perfect enough. It's something that really bothers me, and I hope that more than a few young girls have changed their minds about surgery from reading this book. Saying that, it does seem that Tally changes her mind a little too quickly in this novel; she goes from being completely repelled by Uglies to kissing them in a matter of days...but I guess this is a fast-paced novel so I can forgive it. 

Tally does become a bit of a strange character in general. She commits one of the ultimate sins in YA fiction: she becomes a bit of a boyfriend stealer. I didn't like that. She's not very loyal and kindof gets swept away really easily by compliments she receives. She doesn't discover for herself that she looks fine the way she is and doesn't need an invasive procedure to sort her face out; she only changes her mind because a boy tells her she's beautiful. What if he turned around and said he thought she was ugly? The whole story would have played our differently and she would have been begging for that operation. I didn't really appreciate the way that a woman's self worth and body image are in the control of a man here. It happens too often in real life and girls shouldn't be taught that you can only feel good about yourself if you get male attention. That did not sit comfortably with me. 

I will be reading the next book- I have just ordered a second-hand copy and am awaiting it's arrival, but looking at some of the reviews of the next books I may be giving an even more negative review next time. Hopefully I will actually be able to complete the series! 

Other Thoughts
This Book has Inspired me to Read: 'Pretties' by Scott Westerfeld.

Three Words to Describe this Book: Dystopian. Exciting. Average.


  1. I enjoyed this book (I read the 4 books in the series) but like you said, compared to some other good dystopian books, the world is really, really simple. One of the things that I like most about dystopian books is how vivid some of the worlds are. This one is definitely not that.

    1. Yeah, I think that is what bothered me about it: the world is just a but too simple and things seemed to be a bit too easy for Tally. I think I'm just really mean and like to see the main characters have to be put in MORTAL DANGER! I actually just finished Pretties- what did you think of that one? I think the general consensus is that it's not as good as 'Uglies' and I thought so at first...but then towards the end I started to really love it an got addicted. Quite happy-making and bubbly. Lol x

  2. I enjoyed this book well enough. It had a lot of potential but unfortunately doesn't push the boundaries. It's a bummer the rest of the series goes a bit south.

    Alison at The Cheap Reader

    1. I completely agree! I have recently finished the second book 'Pretties' and I found it quite boring for the first 200 pages...and then suddenly after that I was hooked! I think because it got all adventurey and sinister! I need to get 'Specials' and read that one- I think it looks really interesting but I've mainly heard bad things x

  3. I remember reading this a few years ago and hoping it would be as good as the hype but unfortunately I did not love it.

    I do quite like the cover on the right though.

    Also, like you I really liked the end of the book, but the beginning of Uglies was pretty hard to get into.

    1. I agree completely! I didn't think it lived up to the hype at all and I found it quite dull. However, I guess it was good at the time...a time before The Hunger Games and Divergent...a sad time. Lol.

      I prefer the right hand cover too! I have 'Pretties' in that broken Barbie doll series and I love it!

      I found the beginning of 'Pretties' hard to get into but then I loved the ending of that as well! I think the author waits until the end to unleash his writing abilities! x

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