I’ve wanted to read the Uglies quartet for years, ever since they showed up on my little sister’s shelves. The series takes place in a post-apocalyptic society where all of humanity is gathered into a few independent cities. In every city, when citizens reach their 16th birthday they undergo a surgery to change them from “uglies” into super-model gorgeous “pretties”. There is, of course, a catch. Both the catch and most of the other plot points were quite predictable, although the motivations of those in charge surprised me; I just don’t feel like they got enough out of it. But the idea was novel and I appreciated that. The world was also very well developed and the details of the procedure by which people became pretty were fleshed out enough to make it very believable.
The characters were wonderful. I don’t think there were any cookie-cutter characters and most of the characters were very well-developed. There was also some very believable character development for our protagonist. One of my favorite things about the narrative was how in character the viewpoint was. The main character, Tally, is threatened with remaining ugly forever if she doesn’t help the people in charge find a friend who fled the city. Her reaction was very believable, not too eager to help but not too eager to remain ugly forever either. Her wonder at the things she encountered during her adventures, things we might take for granted today, also added to the feel that we were really getting this story from her perspective.
My least favorite thing about the narrative was the lack of visual descriptions. I think the world envisioned by the author would be a visually stunning world, something which would make a great movie, and I was disappointed the author didn’t do more to make me “see” that. The writing overall was acceptable, but not anything special (which I will say is still superior to some YA series). I don’t have any other specific problems with it, but I did find that it wasn’t hard to put the books down at any point. The series was very thought provoking, raising issues about conformity, beauty, and satisfaction with your own appearance. Definitely a novel I would recommend for a YA book club for instance, but perhaps not awesome enough that I would recommend it to an adult audience as enthusiastically as I’d recommend some other YA series.
Uglies – ★★★☆☆ – Nothing spectacular, but a fun, thought-provoking read starting from a novel idea. Great characters, predictable plot, decent narrative.