Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Book Recommendation: Uglies

Cover image from Wikipedia
If you've noticed my reading list on the right lately, you've probably seen that it's been filled up with a couple of books by Scott Westerfield. I got the first one, Uglies, in a group of ebooks from a Humble Bundle sale (pay however much you want for a collection of books. Part goes to the authors, part to the site, part to charity. It's wonderful for discovering new favorites. John Scalzi wrote two articles about his participation in one.) My writing buddy J R read it before me and recommended it as "better than the Hunger Games." Now, I loved the Hunger Games. I thought it was great, and with it's popularity, how could there be a series better?

She wasn't wrong. It's got dystopia with a dark truth and a mystery of the old world. It's got a strong heroine who's manipulated by the system and fights it. And the basis for the dystopia is just fascinating: What if the world's obsession with beauty went too far?

From Amazon: "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."

It's a three book series with a follow-up fourth book, and something more coming in September apparently. As soon as I finished the first one, I had to go buy the second and third. I'm halfway done with the third and love it just as much as the first. It just keeps digging deeper into how messed up the world is, how far the bad guys will go to keep their perfect world. The technology is creative yet believable for the time (hoverboards that work on magnetism, recyclable clothing), the touches of our world long left behind haunting (cars with corpses locked inside running through crumbling city ruins.) The language is just different enough to be understandable, but obvious that time has changed the slang. Westerfield has built his dystopia beautifully. If you want to fill the void left behind by Hunger Games withdrawl, pick up Uglies.

1 comment:

  1. I read this one years ago and I loved it! I still need to get the third and fourth one though.