Recently I read Uglies, a 406 paged novel by Scott Westerfield. It is a strange story. The main character Tally dreamt of becoming “pretty” and joining the new village of new pretties. She was about to get the operation to become pretty until she was told that she had caused a problem that would delay her operation. Tally made the choice to take a journey to accomplish the dream she had always wanted.
Tally was a sixteen year old woman who had been dreaming of going through an operation that was supposed to make people absolutely beautiful. For the last few months she had been feeling depressed, lonely, and ugly. She felt this way until she met Shay, who never believed in being beautiful as a solution to life’s problems. Shay had always dreamt about leaving the villages and starting a new adventurous life. The day before Tally’s operation, Shay left to go to a village outside of the land she lived in called Smoke. Smoke was a city where runaway uglies could build a new life. On the day of Tally’s operation, she was taken to a society called Special Circumstances that controlled all the villages. They said that she had a problem, which was that she knew about the village of Smoke. The issue with that was that Shay had joined a gang that knew a secret about becoming pretty. Tally was being black mailed by the people who controlled her utopian village and told her to find the village of Smoke, or she wouldn’t become pretty. Tally agreed to this so she could turn pretty.
I like how Westerfield put Tally through an entire journey that made her new friends, she learned what a normal life was and she still got what she wanted.
A good example of Shay’s point of view to life can be found in this conversation between her and Tally:
“It’s not like here Tally. They don’t separate everyone, uglies from pretties, new pretties and middle and late. And you can leave whenever you want, go anywhere you want.”
“Anywhere. Ruins the forest, the sea. And… you never have to get the operation.”
“You what?” Shay sat next to her touching Tally’s cheek with one finger. Tally opened her eyes.
“We don’t have to look like everyone else. We’ve got a choice. We can grow up any way we want.” Page 86.
This quote meant that it wasn’t worth it for Tally to suffer in depression for 16 years waiting for the operation. You were not allowed to leave travel or do anything much while you are waiting to become pretty, but after the operation what was there to do? Party 24/ 7 in the same tiny village for the rest of your life? Shay wanted to wanted to travel and live life to the fullest, instead of living life in the same tiny village.
Another way that the Special Circumstances divided mankind exists with the lesions that most people had after the operations:
“Did you find out about what caused the lesions?”
Maddy sighed “In one sense, we did. Az and I looked very closely at all the negatives – that is, the few pretties who didn’t have the lesions – and tried to figure out how they were different. What made them immune to the lesions? We ruled out the blood type, gender, physical size, intelligence factors, genetic markers – nothing seemed to account for negatives. They weren’t any different from anyone else.”
“Until we discovered an odd coincidence,” Az said
“Their jobs,” Maddy said
“Every negative worked in the same sort of profession.” Az said
“Firefighters, wardens, doctors, politicians, and anyone who worked for Special Circumstances didn’t have them.” “The lesions were a part of the operation; Special Circumstances were putting lesions into people’s heads.” Page 252.
These passages definitely show this book as dystopian literature. The upper class harming people, dividing them, and exercising control over ordinary people-and for what? To keep things organized. To make sure they are kept ignorant so they don’t need to know about the past, and so that they don’t leave the village where they can be kept under control. The thing is everyone needs to take risks; and yes, while many men and women would like this world to be safer and more peaceful we cannot be completely ignorant about what a real life is. Honestly Uglies was a strange book. Yes, I enjoyed the adventure, but it just made me think about all the problems today and the problems in the world Tally lived in. Therefore, I would rate this book an 8 out of 10.