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by Scott Westerfeld

Published by Simon Pulse, 2005
370 pages
ISBN: 0-689-86539-2

Ages 13-16

Given the opportunity, who wouldn’t choose to be pretty? In this future society, surgery at age sixteen makes everyone attractive, eliminating privilege and bias based on physical appearance. Fifteen-year-old Tally can’t wait for her upcoming transformation, and the accompanying move to New Pretty Town where she can join a recently pretty-fied friend and indulge in nonstop partying. When Shay, another “Ugly,” tries to convince Tally to bypass the surgery and join up with the radical few— “Crims”—who live an alternative lifestyle in a wilderness community, she’s initially horrified at the idea. It slowly gains appeal, especially after Tally begins to question the governmental motives behind the enforced surgeries. When she uncovers the shocking conspiracy about surgical effects, which go far deeper than outward appearance, Tally is determined to continue life as an Ugly. But after unwittingly betraying her new friends, Tally vows to make amends in the only possible way: turning herself in, having the surgery, and testing the effects of an illegal new drug designed to reverse the surgery’s more sinister effects. The cliffhanger ending of Uglies is picked up in Pretties, book two of the intended trilogy, in which newly-beautiful Tally remembers nothing of her recent life as a fugitive Ugly. A small spark of discomfort with the shallow and decadent Pretty lifestyle gradually gains momentum, and triggers Tally to fight to regain her personality and drive. Hoping to re-establish her credibility with the Crims, Tally takes dangerous risks. An unexpected plot twist leaves Tally having to reevaluate, once again, all that she believed true. Loads of action, a little romance, and provocative questions about the value of individual differences and the emphasis on beauty in today’s culture all combine in this irresistible teen series.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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