Sunday, August 1, 2010

Scott Westerfeld's Uglies, Pretties, Specials, Extras series

This is a series review! I hope I don’t spoil any of the fun, but here is a brief synopsis of each book.
In Uglies, Tally, a fifteen year old living in a culture where people are turned ‘Pretty’ at age sixteen, there-by gaining the respect and elite privileges of Prettiness. Tally and Shay are two rebellious best friends, one of which, Shay, decides to go and join The Smoke, a band of outlaw uglies who insist on staying that way. When the head of the rumored Specials sends Tally out to find The Smoke and end their rebellion Tally is sure she can fulfill her mission, if for no other reason than to become Pretty! What Tally finds is a camp dedicated to preserving the old ways, ways that destroyed the world once before, but are somehow very freeing and yes, beautiful in its own way. When Tally meets David, an ugly, born and raised outside of Tally’s Pretty-centered society she begins to really see herself and this is the tipping point of her new found self-respect.
*Uglies Spoiler Alert!*
In Pretties Tally is finally one of the many, brain-washed beauties that in-habit her Pretty-City. She is in a group called the Crims with Shay and Peris. Zane is the pretty leader of their little group, intent on staying Bubbly! As Tally and Zane’s romance continues to grow and their bond deepens with the mutual knowledge of the nano-pills Tally continues to shake the legions that plague her mind and remembering the way things once appeared to Tally becomes easier and easier.
*Pretties Spoiler Alert!*
Specials begins with an epic party bust, better than the first two! Shay’s special Specials, The Cutters, are off to find the Smokies infiltrate spy and expose their tricks. The reader has the unique experience of seeing this society through the eyes of an protagonist turned antagonist. As a Special, Tally begins her journey by intimidating others and believing herself to be superior to all of those around her, even her ‘boss’ Shay and her love, Zane, who is barely hanging on, unable to fully heal from the brain damage the nano’s have caused him. Tally does find her way back to herself in time to fight against her society in the Diego War, but at what cost?
Extra’s is the fourth in the series, and quite possibly the final in the saga. This book is told from the perspective of Aya, a Japanese kicker in the time after the mind-rain. Tally is an immortal in this society, and everyone wants a piece of her high face rank. Kicking, or reporting, on oddities around the city is the fastest way to popularity. Lucky for Aya Fuse she has a story that could make her even more popular than Tally, but what will it mean if she exposes what she believes to be the truth behind a storage facility high in the mountains and the presence of strange, glowing creatures?
The UPSE Saga is a personal favorite, let’s just get that out of the way. All four sit proudly on my Mod Podge Bookshelf, along with the companion novel, aptly named, “Bubbly to Bogus.” Tally is also one of my very favorite heroines, I want to be Tally, if only for the complication’s her society places upon her shoulders and the way she overcomes them from within. Her problems never have the most tidy endings, instead rolling over into the next novel, all dependent on who her society will create next, using her body and brain as their personal playground.
The ‘Toys’ in these Scott Westerfeld books are so cool! Even being a girl, I want to ride a hover board! I love Tally's relationships’s with Shay, Zane and David. I’ll say it now, Zane is my literary love in this novel. There is just something so self-sacrificing about his character, and Tally really loves him, I mean really, really loves him.
The chilling ends of the Diego War in Specials are still tingling inside me as I imagine the scene Westerfeld painted so vividly, so painfully.
Extra’s is my least favorite, I wanted in equal parts to experience a new world and go with Tally on a new adventure, letting her and David’s new relationship go less unnoticed. I really didn’t feel like these desires were completely met, though the character’s were still great, the plot lacked something Special’s had left hanging- so perfectly- in the air, what with Tally’s final warning to the world at the end of the third novel. Well, perhaps I will get my wish completely fulfilled eventually, I think I would love a fifth book from David’s perspective, going back to being in an Uglies mind after the Mind-Rain would be so cool!
My favorite, as you may have guessed is Specials, I can’t even talk about it anymore without spoiling, what I feel you need to experience, in the moment. Pretties and Uglies are both amazing companion’s to each other, they are so different from the last two, which is the magic of these books. Though Westerfeld remains in one mind throughout the first three novels each time Tally goes under the knife your own perceptions of Tally’s world change, along with the vernacular, the tone of the novel and the body you are inhabiting as you tackle the world with Tally. Read these books!
A word on the covers: They are all so cool, though I think Aya looks too cool, almost Special in a way. I get that an Extra is different than an Ugly, but I wanted something less sexy, less powerful, but secretive from Aya. Tally on the Special’s cover is well, let’s just say it, she’s Icy! I don’t like the Pretties cover at all, but the Uglies cover is what caused me to delve into the books in the first place. There is that sense of mystery to self, you know that Tally isn’t even aware of her self, or her strength because she is hiding among all the greenery. Bubbly!
What is in a name? You know what I think the coolest name is in these books? It’s Shay’s nickname, which in this society is Shay-la; I think Shayla is so pretty! Tally is super cool and you come to appreciate it as you read. Zane is also pretty Bubbly.

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