In the world of Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld, people live in an isolated, self-sustaining cities and routinely undergo surgery to become generically "pretty" when they turn sixteen. Kids between the ages of twelve and sixteen are considered "uglies" because of their disgustingly mismatched developing faces, and spend their time playing pranks to pass time before the operation. Tally Youngblood is nearly caught while infiltrating New Pretty Town to see her (recently prettified, and strangely uninterested in her) best friend when she meets the equally daring Shay. Her new friend shares Tally's birthday, and will therefore turn pretty at the same time, but Shay doesn't seem that interested in her upcoming transformation; instead, she'd rather visit the Rusty Ruins (vestiges of our wasteful, oil-based society) and try to connect with the mysterious David. When Shay disappears rather than undergo the surgery, Tally is forced to turn spy for the sinister entity known as Special Circumstances or remain horrifyingly ugly for the rest of her life. But after she finds out the truth about the operation, the Rusties, and the community of uglies so desperately sought by the Specials, she must make decisions that will impact more than just her own life and Shay's.
It has actually taken me years to finish reading Uglies. I started it shortly after it came out, and gave up in the middle due to its unsympathetic characters. I call this the Wuthering Heights Syndrome, because I dislike every character in that book and would rather have miniature gnomes pound on my eardrums with tiny golden mallets than be forced to read it again. And I am (I swear!) a huge Emily Brontë fan.
So I took the tack I have been getting great results from lately, where long-overdue TBR books are concerned, and checked out the audio version. Something about the middle of the book almost made me throw up my hands again, but I persevered, and I'm glad that I finished. Given that dystopian1 fiction seems to be a growing trend in young adult literature, it's good to finally have Uglies under my belt.2
Uglies is the first book in a series, and my library has, as an indication of its popularity, Bogus to Bubbly: An Insider's Guide to the World of Uglies. It contains background on the origin of the series and details about some of the technology.
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1On dystopian fiction, particularly from a YA slant, a thought-provoking post by Diana Peterfreund.
2Looking at this list from LibraryThing, I realize that I've read several, including Feed, the Hunger Games trilogy, and Little Brother; interesting that The Phantom Tollboth is on there, obviously I need to re-read it, but nothing is going to induce me to go back to Watership Down.