Prettier than Ugly? Not Quite: A Review of "Pretties"

Cynthia Ayala ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer


Tally has finally become Pretty. Her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot, and she’s popular. It’s everything she’s ever wanted.  But beneath all the fun – the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom – is a nagging sense that something’s wrong. Then a message from Tally’s Ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what’s wrong with Pretty life, and the fun stops cold.  Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life – because the authorities don’t intend to let anyone with this information survive.

Pretties is the second novel in the Uglies series written by Scott Westerfled.  Published on November 1, 2005 by Simon Pulse, the novel carries on the theme set in the first novel about the cost of unity and perfection. It is a well-written novel that fails as a sequel, but not by much.

Following Tally Youngblood, the main protagonist of the series thus far, the novel begins sometime after Uglies has ended.  Tally has undergone the mandated surgery that has made her pretty and very bubbly.  The surgery has changed who she is and the way she thinks, just like she was told. But something even more dangerous has happened: her memories of her past are incomplete, making the past and her friends from Smoke take on a dangerous task: helping Tally remember who she is and escape the prison of conformity.  However, the readers can sense that that Tally knows that something is wrong with her being a Pretty, that something is wrong with who she is.

Carrying on her development in the last novel, readers get to see who she is now in contrast to who she was in the last novel.  She has her own life, and is a new person.  Readers know what the secret is for her change after reading Uglies, something that goes beyond brainwashing.  Special Circumstances manipulates the brain, manipulates the thoughts process by severing very important lesions within the brain.  For Tally, it has worked out much like before, but her development, her experiences still lay within her. This impacts how she feels and how she thinks, making her a very tricky Pretty.

As the novel progresses and new variables come into play for her character, the reader understands Tally and her mind, while also understanding just how important her own self-discovery is.  It highlights how important self-discovery is in fighting any type of governmental manipulation and carries on the theme that beauty is within, and freedom is not an illusion to the reader.  Her fight with the government, while on a very small scale, has ramifications that could lead to a revolution.  The government took away her choice, took away her freedom to think and act on her own.

Now, while all that makes her character very strong, her willingness and her belief to act and be strong despite her fears of not fitting in and discovering a past that can undo everything she is, the introduction of the character diminishes how much her character shines.  Zane is Tally’s boyfriend in the novel and forces her to see the world in which she lives in, much like David did in Uglies.  For female readers, it comes off a bit misogynistic due to the fact that the female character can’t initially think on her own and can’t see the reality from the façade.  However, the scenes where she is alone in the wilderness, trying to survive and find her freedom, highlight her strength.  It’s unfortunate that those scenes are few and far between because those scenes really showcase just how powerful of a character she is.

A novel about self-discovery, acceptance and the overwhelming fight against the narcissistic brainwashing that exists today, this novel shows readers that the important parts of reality are the truths held within freedom, choice and the beauty underneath the surface, not above.  ★★★☆☆ (B)


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