Reader's Advisory, YA Posts

Book Review: Uglies

Highly Recommended

First published in 2005, Uglies is the first installment of a New York Times bestselling series, written by Scott Westerfeld. Uglies is narrated by Tally Youngblood, a teenage girl who lives in three hundred years in the future. In Tally’s society, when teenagers reach their sixteenth birthday, they are transformed by cosmetic surgery to be beautiful. After their surgery, the teens move to a new city, where they live without responsibilities or obligations. As the novel unfolds, Tally discovers that the operation, and the life you lead after it, isn’t as perfect as it seems.

The story asks important questions about friendship, bullying, and the socially constructed idea of beauty. It has opened up interesting conversations about using cosmetic surgery to alter your appearance. As a dystopia, the story also engages readers to think about political power and control, as well as privacy in the modern age. Westerfeld uses simple, obvious names to clearly incorporate dystopic and futuristic elements, using names like ‘Pretty New Town’ and ‘Uglyville’. He carefully describes futuristic inventions like toothbrush pills and hoverboards, making the world of the books easily accessible.

Shorter chapters may make this book appealing for reluctant or slower readers. The fact that this book is part of a popular series is another important appeal factor for many young adult readers. The covers on the 2011 editions on the series feature close-ups of female body parts and a delicate font, meaning that the books may appeal more to female readers than male.