Cynthia Ayala ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license, but to turn pretty. In Tally’s world, a sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent “ugly” into a stunningly attractive “pretty” and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a great time. In just a few weeks, Tally will be there. But Tally’s new friend, Shay, isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a new side of the pretty world, and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.
This novel follows the foundation of the classic Twilight Zone episode “Number 12 Looks Just Like You,” where everyone is made pretty at a certain age so that everyone is exactly the same, eliminating discrimination and alternative opinions to establish conformity.
Uglies, the first novel in the series by Scott Westerfield, is an amazing story for the young adult genre that develops a futuristic dystopian society that addresses the ideas that true beauty is only skin deep, and it’s the imperfections that make everything beautiful. Published on February 8, 2005 by Simon Pulse, this novel takes all of that and expands on George Orwell’s 1984 with big brother (Special Circumstances in this book) making sure that everyone is the same and thinks the same. This novel shows that the obsession with beauty, while it may create self-doubts, could lead to a far more disastrous hold on society: brainwashing the youth into thinking that they are not beautiful at all.
The concept creates such a masterful and amazing novel that works to teach young readers that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it’s important to be happy with yourself. Westerfield is an ingenious writer to develop such concepts such as these and bring them to life with characters like Tally. Following the characters, readers are able to see how different they are in the worlds where they were raised and how they all affect each other. The themes also allow readers to a deeper understanding of true beauty and the societal hold it has and what can happen should it take true control over society’s desire to rid the world of imperfections.
An overall thrilling novel about acceptance and fighting “the man”. ★★★☆ (A)