Summary: (Spoilers if you have not read the previous three books.)
After Tally Youngblood took down the Specials regime and sent the mind-rain, the world came out of its Pretty stupor quickly. But the people had no pattern on which to base their new world. Aya Fuse’s city decided to implement a reputation-based economy, where the people who are the most popular get the most things for the least amount of work, and citizens try anything to get their face rank bumped. Aya herself is a kicker, someone who looks for stories about others to publish to the feeds. She thinks her big break will come with a story about a secret clique, but she may actually have stumbled onto something much bigger—and much more dangerous.
Review: Extras is an excellent addition to the Uglies series, a book that tackles big themes but different big themes and with different characters. Westerfeld gives his readers the satisfaction of seeing what happens after the world changes, but is smart enough to tell the story from a fresh perspective—that of Aya Fuse, a fifteen-year-old Japanese girl with dreams of becoming as popular as her older brother. Society has accepted a broader definition of beauty (though what is ugly still seems to be quite clear), and the new obsession is fame. Westerfeld expertly explores the value of fame, the meaning of fame, and how far one should go to acquire it. There is a fair amount of discussion about truth and integrity in journalism, though the conclusions are a little hazy. Of course, amongst all the philosophy he gives readers action, adventure, and romance of the caliber that colored the first three books.
The one annoying element (and this is very much a matter of opinion) is the continuation of the comments about Rusties’ horrible treatment of the planet. Many readers will agree that pollution is something better avoided and that, yes, humans ought to have some respect for nature, but the characters’ constant condemnation of all the Rusties’ habits is somewhat insulting since we are the Rusties. Westerfeld (and the characters harp on the topic so much that they do eventually come across as Westerfeld’s opinions) begins to give the impression he does not like us very much. Read the rest of this entry
Summary: (Spoilers if you haven’t read Uglies) Tally has allowed herself to be captured by the Specials to be made pretty, so she can test the drug David’s mother has prepared and see whether it will successfully cure the brain lesions—or leave her a vegetable. But when the pills arrive, Tally is scared. With her pretty mind, she does not know whether the risk is worth it.
Review: Pretties is a dark and exciting sequel to Uglies that will keep readers on the edges of their seats. It may be difficult to believe, but the tricks are bigger, the stakes are higher, and everything is more dangerous once Tally and her friends become (supposedly) complacent pretties. New tensions arise between Tally and the Specials, Tally and Shay, and Tally and David—and the choices she must make to try to keep everything together are harder than ever. This is a book fans of Uglies will not want to wait to get their hands on—and of course it ends with a huge cliffhanger that will have them scrambling for Specials. Read the rest of this entry
Summary: Tally is counting the days until her sixteenth birthday when she will finally be able to undergo the operation that will make her pretty. She’s been playing with the computer program to decide exactly what she wants to look like after the doctors have smoothed her skin, sucked away her fat, and made her the perfect height. She is also dreaming about being with her friends again, who turned sixteen and pretty first and have not spoken to her since they moved to New Pretty Town; probably the perpetual parties have distracted them. But then Tally befriends Shay, a girl exactly her age who is not sure at all she wants to be made pretty. When Shay runs away on their sixteenth birthday, Tally is told she cannot become pretty until she finds her and brings her back. She has two choices: betraying a friend and getting what she’s always dreamed of or facing the fact that her society is not quite as beautiful as the government wants her to believe.
Followed by Pretties, Specials, and Extras.
Review: I avoided this series for years, for some reason under the impression that the books featured petty teenage dramas about who was attractive and who was not and the discrimination that could result from society’s rigidly defined ideas of beauty. In case anyone else thinks the same, let me reassure you that they are not. Uglies is actually set in a future dystopia, and the drama comes from chase scenes and confrontations with the government’s special forces, not from cliques and catfights. Read the rest of this entry