Posted by: GravatarWon'tDeleteMyAccount | August 14, 2009

Scott Westerfeld — Uglies

Right, so it’s been maybe six months since I last posted, I know. I’ve been busy. Also, trying to read Horror Story and Other Horror Stories has proven itself to be a task I am not up to. There aren’t enough unicorn chasers in the world to allow me to read that book in a year. So maybe some day I’ll finish it, but not today.

So instead I’ve read a YA book, by a Mr. Scott Westerfeld, entitled Uglies. It showed up on Boingboing and I thought, “Hey, I’ve written YA fiction before, I liked writing it, maybe I’ll like reading it.” So true. The fact of the matter is, that while many young adults read at a college level, I am a post-grad whose reading level is reverting back to when reading was fun. I loved this book.

It’s also not CC-licensed. It’s simply being offered for free download until September 5th (to do that, you should click here), as a kind of a marketing ploy. It’s a good one. As soon as I can convincingly deliver the line “it’s for my cousin” at the checkout counter, I’m going to buy the sequel.

Uglies is the story of a young woman named Tally, who lives in an odd dystopian world, entirely separated from nature. Everyone lives in self-contained cities, and they mock those who came before (yes, I’m afraid that would be us) for their terrible waste of resources. They call them “Rusties” — named for their terrible waste of metal, as well as for the hulking great ruins left of their cities and amusement parks. What’s more bizarre is the way they maintain equality in the cities: mandatory plastic surgery. By remaking everyone’s features into the most symmetrical, “beautiful” configuration they can be, “uglies” — children ten to sixteen — are made into “pretties”. There are further operations later in life, as well, to keep everyone on par. The theory is that everyone automatically treats more attractive people better, and so by making everyone look “perfect” they can make a truly egalitarian society.

Except, except.

Nothing’s ever perfect, and there are kids who know — but trying to escape can get you into a lot of trouble, as Tally finds out.

If I have only one criticism, it’s that the book ends with a cliffhanger, which means that now I need to get the next one, which isn’t free; if I have two, it’s that the cover art makes the book look a lot more juvenile than it reads, making it harder to get in person.

Maybe I’ll order it online.

Keep reading, keep writing.



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