Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Recently Read: Uglies

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld was required reading for my children's lit class this semester. I had never read it before, in fact, I had tried to read it many years ago, I was a Freshman in high school maybe, and stopped about 100 pages in. I hadn't read a lot of sci-fi or dystopian literature at that point so I had a hard time getting into it. This time around, I really enjoyed the book and whizzed through it in a couple days and have already bought the sequel, Pretties.

If you aren't familiar, this book is set in a world where on your sixteenth birthday, everyone undergoes surgery to become a pretty, and before the surgery you are referred to  as an ugly. The surgery gives you perfect features and you then move to New Pretty Town to live a life of fun and partying. Tally, is about to turn sixteen and her best friend has already turned pretty so she is alone, until she meets Shay, another ugly with the same birthday as her and they become friends. But Shay is not so sure she wants to turn pretty, and of course, there is something fishy going on with the surgeries.

I love the cover update this series got a couple years ago
The white cover is the updated one.

I thought I would share my responses to this book that I made for my class discussion:

The characters in this book were relatable, and I’m sure they will continue to develop as the series continues. Tally was a good narrating character and it was nice to experience her journey throughout the story and see the themes of this novel develop as her thoughts and perceptions about the world around her developed. There were many instances of symbolism in this book, Tally’s pig mask she wears when she sneaks into New Pretty Town to see Peris, the name of Cleopatra Park, the name of the town Smoke, and the white tiger orchard flower and its ruthless and mindless takeover of everything in its path. The symbols contributed nicely to the plot and really helped deepen and cement the themes of this novel. Themes from this novel include: “Ugly” and “Pretty” being concepts defined by culture as opposed to the idea that they are something concrete and scientific, the concepts of pretty v. ugly, and loving yourself and being your true self, and bravery is telling the truth and doing the right thing, taking risks to save and help those you love. 

This book made many statements about our generation through the idea of the Rusties. Tally and the other Uglies viewed us as wasteful and harmful to nature, and were taught in school of the Rusties’ foolishness and that they had caused their own downfall with their dependence of oil. It’s interesting to imagine how future generations will feel about us, to think what they will learn about us in school and how foolish some of the events that occur or the ideas we believe in will look to future generations. This novel also speaks very loudly of the pressure our society places on appearance. The scene where Tally sees a fashion model in a magazine in the library and is disgusted by how thin she is really drives home this idea. Tally’s world has taken the idea that outer appearance reflects the inside to an extreme and Westerfeld’s novel is showing the world a possible future for a society obsessed with physical appearance that completely neglects developing the mind, personality, or moral integrity of its citizens.   

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