Playing on every teen’s passionate desire to look as good as everybody else, Scott Westerfeld projects a future world in which a compulsory operation at sixteen wipes out physical differences and makes everyone pretty by conforming to an ideal standard of beauty. The "New Pretties" are then free to play and party, while the younger "Uglies" look on enviously and spend the time before their own transformations in plotting mischievous tricks against their elders. Tally Youngblood is one of the most daring of the Uglies, and her imaginative tricks have gotten her in trouble with the menacing department of Special Circumstances. She has yearned to be pretty, but since her best friend Shay ran away to the rumored rebel settlement of recalcitrant Uglies called The Smoke, Tally has been troubled. The authorities give her an impossible choice: either she follows Shay’s cryptic directions to The Smoke with the purpose of betraying the rebels, or she will never be allowed to become pretty. Hoping to rescue Shay, Tally sets off on the dangerous journey as a spy. But after finally reaching The Smoke she has a change of heart when her new lover David reveals to her the sinister secret behind becoming pretty. The fast-moving story is enlivened by many action sequences in the style of videogames, using intriguing inventions like hoverboards that use the rider’s skateboard skills to skim through the air, and bungee jackets that make wild downward plunges survivable -- and fun. Behind all the commotion is the disturbing vision of our own society -- the Rusties -- visible only in rusting ruins after a virus destroyed all petroleum.
Why did I wait so long to read this? Oh, that's right. It was just published here in Argentina, imagine that... I just loved this book. It had everything I expect to read in a YA book: romance, mystery, friendship, trouble, promises... Overall, a wonderful read.
The story begins by introducing Tally and her desire to become Pretty. Like everyone else around her, she thinks she's ugly, and that the only way to be happy is to get the surgery that will transform her, on her 16th birthday.
Enter Shay. She's the rebel that shows Tally there are other ways to live your life. They become best friends, and Tally is heartbroken when Shay announces that she's escaping, right before her 16th birthday (same as Tally's) to go and live in The Smoke.
Tally stays, and waits to be transformed, so she can join her old friends in the city of the New Pretties. But she's still worried about Shay. Her birthday's come, and Tally learns she won't be getting the surgery. She can either stay ugly, or go after Shay, and bring her back, but not without giving away The Smoke's secret location.
And like this begins Tally's adventure. Once in The Smoke, Tally will learn there's more to people than meets the eye, the meaning of true love and friendship, and she'll have to make a big decision: stay in The Smoke, pretend like she's been one of them from the start, tell everyone the truth, and say she's sorry; or betray those who've shown her how things really are.
Although this can be put in the Sci-Fi genre, that was one of the last things I noticed. Yes, there are flying vehicules, and instant food, but it just felt necessary to have those element there.
The things I did notice were the values this book teaches, values of family, love and friendship, above being a pretty face.