Scott Westerfeld was someone I’d not heard of until my pink blog about four years ago, and then only because someone pointed out he had a pink book cover for a book not just intended for girls. That will have been Pretties, the second novel of his dystopic series, set in a future where you get cured of being ugly, whether you want it or not.

Scott Westerfeld, Uglies

It sounds rather light and bad, although it is anything but. The books have recently been reissued, and Uglies comes with the first chapter of Pretties, and it’s a very ugly chapter.

Set several hundred years into the future, everyone gets an operation at 16, which makes them pretty. It also makes them happy and rather empty-headed, and generally no trouble at all. You can see that this is a good thing if you want to avoid war and rebellion. Or maybe leaders just want to rule, as always.

Tally has lost her best friend to the pretties and makes a new friend, Shay, just before their 16th birthdays. Except Shay runs away to live outside the pretty society, with other like-minded people, and Tally ends up having to go after her, or risk not becoming pretty herself.

You can guess what happens. The uglies living outside normal society turn out to be nice and sensible people. But nothing is ever easy, and society does not give in. Ever.

It’s an interesting reflection on what we are doing to our world and to ourselves. There are good things in this new world, because we are currently quite adept at ruining what we have. But as with many revolutions, it’s not as marvellous afterwards as was the intention.

I can’t quite see where this is going. The beginning of Pretties is awful, so should prove interesting to say the least. And judging by the third title, Specials, the problems won’t be over soon.

Let’s hope these books make readers reflect over the destruction of our bodies and the world. What do we value, and why? (That sounds awfully worthy. It’s not that kind of story. It’s exciting and fun.)


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