Book Review

Pretties—Scott Westerfeld


Back cover text: Tally has finally become pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot, and she’s completely popular. It’s everything she’s ever wanted.

But beneath all the fun—the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom—is a nagging sense that something’s wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally’s ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what’s wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold.

Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life—because the authorities don’t intend to let anyone with this information survive.

I read Uglies before I started this blog, but the Chubs Mug of Literary Fortitude finally gave up the sequel to me. It had been so long I didn’t remember at all where Tally had ended up at the end of the book, which, I suppose neither did Tally, so we were in the same boat.

The concept of the Ugly series is fascinating. I love post-apocalyptic (or post–near apocalyptic) stories, and I like seeing how the whole world fits together, and what’s changed from the world we live in. This part of it was more interesting to me than what happened to Tally in this book.

A problem with a lot of YA heroines is that things happen to them. And while Tally doesn’t suffer this as much as many of the other heroines, she is frustratingly passive. She makes small decisions (that ultimately, yes, lead to her escape): the choice to climb the tower, the choice to take the pills, the choice to pull the tricks that make the Crims bubbly are all her own actions, but the large action of the story—the Specials, the New Smokies, Shay—all happens independently of her.

And, oof, speaking of Shay. This girl is a nightmare. Tally’s “betrayal” seems weak motivation. Any story that can be fixed by two people having a conversation frustrates me. Yes, Tally sent her pings, but did Tally try to find her except for that night where she found the Cutters? (Also, painful way to work self-harm into the novel.) No.

I haven’t read Specials yet, but Pretties suffers from the middle-book-in-a-trilogy problem. It’s just building up to Tally becoming a Special, something I called before I even remembered the next book was called Specials. The end was sort of exciting, the weird anthropology study was maybe the most interesting part of the book (and if we don’t ever get to see them again, I’m gonna be real mad), and the love triangle was… meh. I want Tally to pull a Katniss (in that one brief moment where she declared she wouldn’t choose either of them, before she settled for Peeta).

Breakout star of the novel is Dr. Cable. I want a book about her when she was an Ugly and a Pretty and how she ended up a Special.

Pretties HUD

  • Pretties (Uglies #2)
  • Author: Scott Westerfeld
  • First Edition: 2005
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • First Reading
  • Date Started: October 8, 2017
  • Date Finished: October 14, 2017
  • Rating: 3/5

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