Uglies (2005) by Scott Westerfeld
Back Jacket: Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. In just a few weeks she'll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into the stunning pretty. And as a pretty, she'll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun. But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to become a pretty. 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 a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all . Tally's choice will change her world forever.
Review: Uglies starts with a very interesting premise. In Tally's world, being pretty is extremely important. Everyone who's an "ugly" is basically just killing time until they can have the "pretty" operation. Westerfeld does a great job with plotting (even though the events are very simple and straightforward), but I don't feel like he explored the issues of beauty that he introduced very well. I wasn't particularly drawn in by the characters or his writing style, but I did really end up enjoying the second half of the book--enough that I was curious about what happens next! I appreciate an author who can resolve one major issue--so that readers have a sense of completion--and then introduce a new complication--so readers will want to see what happens next. Westerfeld definitely does this, but I still feel that I didn't enjoy the book as much as I wanted to.
Conclusion: I give this book a 3/5. Uglies is fast-moving and tightly-plotted, but doesn't explore issues of beauty/images with the depth that I would expect from a book whose tagline is "In a world of extreme beauty, anyone normal is ugly." I was hoping to see the why behind the prioritization Tally's society put on beauty and the implications that might arise from that. Maybe this aspect only fell short because it is the first in a series: Can anyone tell me how the others compare to the first installment?