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Book Review: Uglies by Scott Westerfield

Uglies by Scott Westerfield was originally published in 2005 and since then has gone on to be the first of a trilogy, followed by a companion book called Extras. Although I am very late to read this series, I can’t help but feel that reading it as an adult puts a whole new perspective on this novel's perception and intention.

The story is set in a dystopian universe somewhat ahead of ours - it’s even hinted that the society we live in today might’ve been in their worlds past. It follows the life of young fifteen-year-old Tally Youngblood, who, facing her sixteenth birthday, will soon be able to have ‘the operation’ to turn her face from ugly to pretty. In her society, this is the norm, and all those considered ‘ugly’ or simply with their natural faces are outcast as lesser-classed citizens. It’s at this exciting time that Tally meets a new friend called Shay. Shay, however, has different plans for her future, drawing Tally into the outside world from there city, into a place called ‘The Smoke’. 

The Smoke is a place where people believe that no one should have the operation and should grow old naturally. They believe that modern society brainwashes young people to believe that pretty is better. Leaders of the Smoke are also aware of some devastating secrets involved with the operation, secrets that threaten to overthrow the entirety of modern society. So Tally must choose whether she partakes in her society's expectations, or become something of a criminal by defying them and living in the Smoke.

On the surface this may seem like your average teenage protest novel, going against society’s beauty beliefs, but the reality is that this novel covers so much more, from the way we destroy our environment to being controlled through our education and media. This novel really does make you think about the truth that lies beneath everything we know in our own world. Because of this I heartily recommend it. Be sure to read the entire series and don’t forget to reflect on the hidden meanings within the plot that may resonate some of your own beliefs.

Written by Lauren Noding

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