A different sort of Flashback Friday than usual. This book was published when I was teenager (I think…it’s pretty close anyway) but I didn’t read it until just now. So, it’s sort of like a Flashback…right?

*squidges by on a technicality*

I loved this book. I loved it’s fast pace, it’s cast, and it’s flying and jumping off of things.

I feel that Uglies paved the way for the YA Dystopian genre. I’m sure it wasn’t the absolute first (although, now I’m wondering what was?) but it holds many similarities to other dystopians I’ve read. Not in the writing or the characters or the plot, but in the idea that in the future, we will all be forced to undergo some sort of operation at a certain age, to make us less human. Something that started out with good intentions, like making everyone equally pretty as in this book, but paved the path for a tyrant to come in and take over.

Uglies is one of those books. When one reaches the age of sixteen, in this world, you go under the knife and come out…pretty. They shape your bones and your eyes and your lips. The scrub off any marks on your skin and suction off all your fat. They make you gorgeous. Unbelievably gorgeous. Just like everyone else.

More than the story or the characters, or perhaps not MORE than but alongside all of the traditional parts of telling a story Scott Westerfeld tries to ascertain whether or not this is a good thing or not. Whether or not all the insecurity and self-doubt and self-consciousness that afflicts us as teenagers and young adults can be solved by changing the way we look. This spoke to me a lot. I don’t know that I would be able to turn this down even now that I’m twenty five (and have read a LOT of cautionary fiction) so it is very easy to identify with Tally, the main character. I completely understand why she wants to be Pretty. All her friends are Pretty. She has been brought up on the idea that she isn’t just ugly, she is an Ugly. Her whole being right now needs to be different so that she can fit it. Authority figures have been telling her this all her life.

So, the idea that she would betray a friend, especially so new a friend, when her Pretty operation is withheld from her is completely believable and understandable. And also awesome because it sends her on a hover-boarding adventure across a deserted landscape of future earth. I especially enjoyed the way the setting was described because it could have been anywhere, on any continent, the aftermath of any part of civilization. It felt the same and yet different from anything else I’ve read like it.

The world building was exceptional in this story.

As were the characters. Tally’s longing to become Pretty and join her friends was palpable. It made the whole story stick together. Her complete and utter belief that she was ugly and inferior and needed to be different. Needed to have someone else change her, was, in a way, just as I’d felt as a teenager but was also a million times worse.

Shay, Tally’s friend who runs away from the city just before her Pretty operation, was very simple on the surface but the more I think about it, the more complex and important she was. All her appearances in the beginning seem to serve some sort of purpose to the plot. Whether it be teaching Tally to use the hover-board or being the runaway that forces others to send Tally out into the wild searching for her. But the relationship the two develop outside of the city is different and her character became more alive to me then. I can’t wait to see where the rest of the series takes Shay.

And then there’s David, who, despite being an ugly past the age of sixteen, seemed to be the most attractive character in this book. I loved his confidence and his authority and his connection to Tally. A lot of spoilers are wrapped up in why I love David so much so I’m not going to say anything more, except if he and Tally don’t end up together, I’m gong to be unhappy.

After years and years of not reading this book, I’ve owned for it at least two yours, what prompted me to pick it up was, well, Scott Westerfeld was in town and man does he know how to put on an author event. If he is ever doing an event near you, go. Don’t think twice about it. He was funny, informative, entertaining, and just had some awesome things to say. As I went to his very last tour stop for Behemoth I respect his ability to keep things sounding fresh and new even though he must have shown those same slides a million times.

Stayed tuned to future Flashback Fridays when I review the next two books in the series.

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