Thursday, July 8, 2010

Review - UGLIES

Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
Genre: YA sci-fi/dystopian
# of pages: 425 (pb)
Published by: Simon Pulse, Simon & Schuster
Recommended for: ALL AGES.
Uglies @ Parental Book Reviews

My Thoughts
Wow, what an introduction into the world of Scott Westerfeld! I have heard so many things about him, and he is such a prolific writer. Science fiction/dystopian, alternate historical fiction/fantasy, whatever Peeps is supposed to What a talented guy to be able to have such "variety."

All in all, I was very, VERY impressed with Uglies. First off: the writing. Westerfeld is now one of my favorite writers, not only for his immense creativity but also for his ability to blend the JUST RIGHT amount of action, description, and dialogue. This may sound like a weird comparison, but Scott Westerfeld reminds me of a gourmet chef: he knows how to measure out and mix together the right concoction of ingredients in order to make a delicious product!
It made reading Uglies a fun and smooth experience. Let's face it, it's really hard for authors to come up with a story that is 100% interesting and confusion-free, and it's really hard for readers (sometimes, if we're honest) to stay focused and interested the whole time. In all fairness, the middle part of story (from when Tally arrives at the Smoke to when the Smoke is ambushed) dragged just a little, but thanks to the quality of Westerfeld's writing, it never descended into tediousness. Oh, and this is a BIGGIE: there is SYMBOLISM!! Yes, Scott Westerfeld employed the literary device with such skill and thoughtfulness, I can totally see English teachers chirping with delight. I'm going to give this copy to my English-teacher mom :)

Characterization was very well-done. Even considering Fins, I've been on a reading winning streak when it comes to good, well-rounded and likable main characters. Tally Youngblood is one of those characters who seems to divide readers - some of them think she's shallow and a little flat, and others really like her and can connect with her. I'm definitely in the latter category. When I read a dystopian novel, I have to keep in mind that I am reading about a society that is (probably) drastically different from my own, and it's full of people who have a different reality from me. Tally is no exception, and once I put myself in her world, it was really easy to see why she behaves the way she does and why she chooses to make certain decisions. But besides all that, Tally was just a fun character to read about. Once again, master chef Westerfeld had all the ingredients for a great character: she was assertive and witty without being bratty or snarky, she was a good friend (sometimes) who struggled with loyalty and doing the right thing, and she was self-aware without being self-absorbed. Perfecto!
The supporting characters were alright - I particularly liked Shay but didn't really care for Peris (but then again, he is supposed to be kind of an airhead) and the rest of the characters were okay. This book in particular really is about Tally and her journey, so she's the one I paid the most attention to. Oh, and I definitely need to mention Dr. Cable. Excellent, excellent villain! I *think* she's the main antagonist of the series, and wow, she was great. Yes, I have been known to really like certain villains, if they're interesting enough. I kept imagining a woman version of Agent Smith from The Matrix. My absolute favorite aspect of the story was Special Circumstances. That was *so* Matrix!
The world Westerfeld created was really interesting and I enjoyed reading (and studying) Uglies as a science fiction dystopian novel. I love dystopians but haven't read many, and certainly didn't disappoint. This really has nothing to do with my review or my grade, but the only things about Uglies that seemed a bit "much" were some of the details of the society in general, maybe basic Dystopian 101 stuff. To be honest, I started to get a little annoyed with the constant Rusty-bashing. We're the Rusties, of course, and I guess the attitude got to me. But of course, how normal is that? Most societies and cultures kind of get a bit "puffed up" on their own superiority. Yeah, those Victorians were so stupid, they didn't even have purified water or proper sewage systems - what morons! Kind of like that. And I'm just sharing this because...well, I don't know why...but the whole "fall of the Rusties" and the ideals of the new society are a little...not complex. I mean, an oil bug? Environmentally-superior new culture? No more wars because everyone's pretty? It just seems too convenient. And the new society is very similar to our own: people chasing after fun, pleasure... there's really no contrast, except maybe all the hedonists are pretty, not just some. Whatever! It would have been absolute, 100% perfection without the quasi-political after-school-special tone. That's why this is in a small font.

In a nutshell, Uglies was an amazing, enjoyable, and thought-provoking read that I would definitely encourage everyone to pick up. Teens will love the story, and adults will find this book immensely clever.

Final Grade:
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