Twilight Zone meets 1984 | Cyn’s Book Review of Uglies (Uglies, #1)


By: Cynthia Ayala

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Author: Scott Westerfield

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Published: February 8, 2005

Series: Uglies

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license – for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.  But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all.  The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

This novel follows the foundation of the classic Twilight Zone episode “Number 12 Looks Just Like You”, where everyone is made pretty at a certain age so that everyone is exactly the same, eliminating discrimination, thought, and establishing conformity.  This novel follows one Tally Youngblood can’t wait for the operation on her sixteenth birthday.  That I until she meets one girl named Shay, who lives with her head in the clouds, happy with who she is, and wishing the operation would stay far away.  Her thoughts and her ideals, incredibly different than Tally’s, leading her into a world full of people who hide who they are because they are happy with who they are.

Uglies, the first novel in the Uglies series by Scott Westerfield, is an amazing novel for the young adult genre that develops a futuristic dystopian society that addresses the ideas that true beauty is only skin deep and it’s the flaws, the imperfections that make everything beautiful.  Published on February 8th 2005 by Simon Pulse, this novel takes all if that and expands on Orson Wells’ 1984 with big brother, Special Circumstances in this book, making sure that everyone is the same and has the same thoughts, thoughts of just living carefree lives, and thoughts that put away any oppression.

As Tally soon finds out in the novel, being different is considered bad and plays on the two fears humanity has, both of which juxtapose one another: that being “the same” is the achievable concept and that being controlled, monitored and manipulated are bad for society.  This novel goes beyond to show that the obsession with beauty, while it may create self-doubts, that it could lead to far more disastrous hold on society, like brainwashing the youth into thinking that they are not beautiful at all.

The concept creates such a masterful and amazing novel that works to teach young readers that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that’s it’s important to be happy with ones’ self.  Westerfield is an ingenious writer to develop such concepts such as these and bring it to life with characters such as Tally and David.  Following these characters, readers are able to see how different they are in the worlds in which they were raised and how each of them effects the other, allowing the characters to grow and develop in ways that are clear to the reader, making it easier for the reader to connect to them.  The eligibility also allows readers follow the story as it progresses into a deeper understanding of true beauty and the societal hold it has and what can happen should it take a true control over societies desire to rid the world of imperfections.

An overall thrilling novel about acceptance and fighting “the man”.  ★★★☆ (A)

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