Tally has gone from Ugly to Pretty to dreaded Special. Now she is specially enhanced to help keep the people of her city in line–the pretties stupid and the uglies ready for their operations.
Once again we have the all too long passage of isolation where Tally is forced to reconsider her life while out in nature alone. I get that it is a theme, that being out in nature changes you. At the same time, it gets slow and tedious and a bit repetitive. (I say that despite enjoying the book.)
It is hard to get in touch with Tally and the other main characters because their personality change from one moment to the next. Tally is the sort of character who tends to get forced into situations and only takes action as a last resort. As a result, she is not my favorite character (of the many books I have read), but the fight itself–the bigger struggle against the city and the operations–is still interesting.
[SPOILER:] I am not sure how I felt about the resolution of the love triangle, it felt like an easy out. Tally never truly had to choose and technically she got them both in the end yet there was never the sense that her feelings for David ever resurfaced exactly. It is powerful to see her reaction to Zane once she finally sees him. It really highlights the ideas of being obsessed with beauty, being controlled by the government and brainwashing in a way that nothing else could.
Though not my favorite dystopian series, Westerfeld has a way with words that makes even the slower sequences enough to keep you turn pages.
In the follow up to Uglies, Tally has become a pretty. We all know why, but Tally doesn’t remember much about her last few days as an ugly or why she ended up pretty. There are a lot of things she isn’t sure of, thanks to a procedure that affects the brain. But events conspire to help Tally remember why she became pretty and how she can regain the clarity and understanding that was taken away from her in the operation.
The story remains imaginative and interesting. Westerfeld has delved into his world and let us see the inner workings of pretty town (which were as mysterious to us as to the uglies in book one). Seeing this helps fill in the details that were missing before.
Like in the first book, there are long stretches of time where Tally is alone or stuck in her head. Sometimes it gets a little slow because of this, but it does help portray just how different the operation makes a person.
Shay’s storyline is a bit shocking and I am not sure I truly believe her character would take the turn she does. I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to ruin it. (Perhaps if the change was a bit more gradual it would be a bit more believable, but it seems fairly sudden and very extreme considering who she was before.) In a way, it almost feels like it was done for shock value over anything else. It was a good twist, but not the most realistic one.
One of the more interesting elements of the book was the love triangle involved. Since Tally does not remember David much, it makes sense that she would fall for someone else in New Pretty Town. This is one storyline that I would have liked to see more of and it felt like when the issue could finally be confronted, so many other things were happening and we didn’t get a chance to really go into it. If I could change one thing about book two, it would have been that. Even one more day would have been nice.
The series remains exciting and I can’t wait to see where book three takes it. (As interesting as it would be on screen, it would probably be a nightmare to shoot with all the surgeries and physical changes each character must undergo. I suppose a really good makeup team might suffice.)
Tally Youngblood is about to turn sixteen, which means she can finally become pretty, like all of her friends before her. At sixteen, everyone has an operation to turn them into beautiful people and tally is the last. But until then, she has to kill time in Ugly Town, without her friends for company. Desperate to see her best friend Peris again, Tally sneaks over to New Pretty Town to see him and in the process meets Shay, another Ugly who is waiting for her sixteenth birthday. The two become quick friends, but when Shay disappears before her surgery, everything changes for Tally. The authorities insist that Tally help them find Shay, or she will have to stay Ugly forever.
Westerfeld does a masterful job of taking society’s obsessions with beauty to the extreme. He is particularly good at showing how flawed the obsession with beauty is and how brainwashed people are about it.
Tally was a realistic character who, unlike most book characters in these types of dystopian societies, is not a rebel. She likes to play some pranks, like any Ugly does, but at heart she truly does want to become a Pretty. It is only circumstances out of her control and the friends she meets that makes her begin to question this chosen path. (This makes her somewhat passive in the beginning, but she grows into an active character.)
The weakest point of the novel is a stretch of time where Tally is on her own. Having no conversation and companionship, though important to the story, makes things go a bit slowly for that section. However, any loss of pace there is quickly made up in the excitement that follows.
I would like to find out more about the country as a whole (we get a little bit of it, but for the most part we only really see Tally’s community) and what adulthood is like in this dystopian world. Since it is a four book series, I am sure there is more to come and already I have begun reading book two. This is definitely one of the better dystopian novels out (and came out slightly before this new obsession with this genre) and I highly recommend it.