Uglies and Pretties

With the holidays on, I have been reading but not taking the time to write reviews. Here are a couple of quick recommendations:

I recently read the first two books in the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. These are well-done teen dystopias. Of course I enjoyed them, in a craft-envious kind of way. They should appeal to grades five through ten or so, and to adults like me who like YA novels. There’s something about the fast read appeal of a quickly-plotted SF novel, that isn’t filled with blasé sex and violence like so much adult material. There is romance and lots of action here, but the youth of the protagonists make it that much more intense, although less explicit.

The world-building is excellent and focussed on one area per book. Uglies concentrates on the “operation,” a procedure which at the age of sixteen, turns awkward adolescents (called Uglies), into “New Pretties.” Like a coming out party to end all coming out parties, New Pretties move out of school dorms into a pleasure city where they are expected to party, date and amuse themselves. The protagonist, Tally, escapes the procedure by riding a ‘sweet,’ magnetically levitating surf board into the wilderness. Her search for the “Big Smoke,” inhabited by those who rebel against the operation, takes up a large part of the book.

The second book, Pretties, begins in “New Pretty Town,” where Tally has been transformed into a bubble-headed Pretty. The book follows her struggle to return to normal. I won’t say more except to recommend both books.

Happy holidays! Happy New Year! I hope you are celebrating something and getting some time off work to spend time with your families.

Happy reading.

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