Scott Westerfeld's book, Uglies, ended up being much more interesting, engaging, and thought-provoking, than I was anticipating. The title had me concerned; I feared a shallow romp through the teenage land of angst, with cookie-cutter girls whipping their super-straightened hair to and fro. I was not entirely wrong, but the refreshing surprise came with the vigorous critique of this "culture of pretty".
In Uglies, our fed-on-television culture has morphed into a world where the only goal in life is to become pretty, which is defined by a computer program that determines the optimal features for each person, whereupon they, as a teenage right of passage, undergo severe reconstructive surgery at the age of sixteen to turn them into members of the biggest clique in history.... New Pretty Town.
Two-dimensional, air-headed adults populate this new reality, and they party their way through life, all the while being unknowingly controlled by the subtle alterations the doctors have made to their brains. To rebel against this culture is to become an outcast. Who would want to remain an "ugly", when life is so fun as a "pretty"? No more worries, no concerns, just blind faith in those who tell you what to do.
In this first installment in a series, Scott Westerfeld lays out a blistering condemnation of the throw-away, wasteful, and shallow culture we have become.
Part environmental rant, part thrill-ride, Uglies was a pleasant surprise, and I can't wait to see where the author takes things in the next book, Pretties, which I promise to review at a later date!