Uglies by Scott Westerfeld: Book Review

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Cover of Uglies by Scott Westerfeld3 Stars

Tally lives in the future, in a world where, at the age of sixteen, everyone is made superhumanly pretty. The thinking is that by leveling the playing field, so to speak, racism, bullying, low self-esteem, and all the negative things that can be associated with personal appearance can be eliminated. But not everyone wants to be made pretty.

I love, love, LOVE the idea behind this novel. A book that points out how obsessed we are with appearances, is very readable, and is aimed at a young adult audience? In a way, I wish there were more of them. This is a terribly important message. Add to that the less-obvious-but-still-there message about sustainability and the environment? Sounds like a winner to me!

And it kind of was. Westerfield pulled off the “preachy” stuff without sounding preachy at all. The story was pretty action-packed and I really did keep turning pages. There was just something missing. I’m having a very hard time putting my finger on it. Partly, this truly felt like a young adult novel. I do read a fair amount of YA, so that’s not typically an issue for me, but this really did feel young. I think I wanted a little more meat to the story. (I really am having a hard time with this.) I felt like there should have been more history between Tally and Shay in order for everything to happen the way it did, but then that would probably have changed everything. So I guess the storyline feels a little forced initially. I think I was partly frustrated with Tally for just not telling everything she knew. I’m a firm believer in confessing what you did wrong, getting it over with, and then generally finding out that things go a little easier for you because you just admitted it. But it didn’t happen that way and I wanted to shake her. I really wanted to shake her when I got close to the end. “Did you really think they wouldn’t think of that!?!?!” Okay, she’s sixteen. I was pretty stupid at sixteen too. So it’s probably realistic, but that didn’t make it any less frustrating for me.

Oh, and I really dislike the titles of these books. I was mildly embarrassed to be seen reading it at work.

And that’s the best I can do. I’ll pick up the next one. And I really do recommend this for teen girls. Anything to get them thinking about how unhealthy our society’s ideal body image really is.

Reviewed October 14, 2009

Read an excerpt.

Find author Scott Westerfeld on his website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Read more reviews at Teens Read and Write, Reading with Tequila, and Emily’s Reading Room.

If you enjoyed Uglies, you might also like The Maze Runner by James Dashner, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Buy Uglies at

Friday Flashback Reviews, a feature at The Introverted Reader

Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

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  1. Interesting premise. I'm not a big YA reader but it seems many of the dystopias are also YA. Thanks for sharing.

  2. It sounds intriguing-will have to add it to my TBR list. I guess the idea of a level playing field is sort of along the lines with school uniforms, too. And I'm sure this story is going to make me MAD?! 🙂


  3. I really enjoyed reading Uglies and Pretties. Then I got to Specials and it was too much for me. I finished it but didn't continue on to Extras. But, Uglies and Pretties definitely are on my really good list

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