‘Uglies’ by Scott Westerfield
In Tally Youngblood’s world, everyone is born ugly. Ugly, that is, until their sixteenth birthday when they undergo cosmetic surgery to become one of the ‘pretties’, who live perfect lives in their own pretty side of town. The logic is essentially that evolutionary biology dictates that certain features allow for an ideal body and, therefore, ideal world.
When her best friend becomes a ‘pretty’, Tally can’t wait to turn sixteen and join him.
However, she discovers a secret society of people unwilling to subscribe to the operation called ‘Smoke’. When one of her friends runs away to join them, Tally is faced with a life-altering choice- help the authorities uncover ‘Smoke’ or remain ugly forever.
‘Uglies’ is just the first book in a four-part series. What I found interesting about this series is how similar certain events in the novel are to real-life conversations surrounding ‘the ideal body’. Unlike a lot of moralising dystopian novels that force lofty principles down your throat, this story builds both sides of the argument surrounding body image with equal care, allowing the reader to come to their own conclusions.
Scott Westerfield’s quirk contemporary writing style makes the book a light easy read, perfect for a free Sunday evening. At the same time, it forces us to ask ourselves what we value as a society, perfection or individualism?
Shivani Gowda, 11 ISC