Specials - Scott Westerfeld

Special Circumstances used to be a rumor that no one believed in but Tally Youngblood knows the truth: It is very real and they are recruiting. In what was supposed to be the ending to a trilogy, Tally is forced to become a special.  She gets another operation that makes her the perfect killing machine and finds herself working for the same people that she was once against. When she gets an assignment to eliminate the New Smoke, she is conflicted with resurfacing memories.  Will she once again fight alongside the people of the Smoke or carry out the mission she is programed to do? Either way, her final decision changes the world as she knows it. 

This is actually my favorite book in the series.  I really enjoyed the "special" point of view.  It was definitely an improvement from the pretty perspective.  Her change from being a pretty to a special was much more difficult than her change from ugly to pretty.  She is programed to think she is better than everyone else and gains new abilities like crystal clear vision and stronger muscle. In each book, she is the one who is different and can think her own way out of the effects of the operation.  She struggled more with holding on to past memories and feelings and really what is left of her humanity. I was a little disappointed that some of the events were predictable as there were some reoccurring themes, for example, what helps her to remember herself is being alone in the wild. 

Like the first book, Tally is alone for most of her journey to rediscovering herself post-operation.  The only other important people are Shay and Zane.  I like how her friendship with Shay fluctuates from good to bad throughout the series.  I'm glad that she was present more in this book but I still wish the reader was able to know a little more about her.  I also enjoyed how the roles were somewhat reversed between them and Shay was more susceptible to the idea of being cured than Tally and it reminded me of why I liked her in the first book.  Zane. on the other hand, was hardly present but had an indirect role in helping Tally along on her quest. I am disappointed at how characters that were important in the previous books are hardly mentioned, mainly David and Zane.   .  

In other reviews I've read for this book, I noticed that a lot of people had problems with the Cutters.  I do not condone cutting oneself but, as an adult reader, I did not have a problem with it being apart of this book.  The issue was resolved subtly; they realize, after being "cured" that they didn't need to cut themselves to feel "icy." Not to mention, Zane and David did show their disgust toward it.  

Overall, I liked the series once I actually sat down and got into the  books.  I liked the ideas and I think they were presented well.  I enjoyed the ending, though it could have been better,  but not enough to continue to read on to the next book (Extras), especially since Tally is not the main character.  The author should have kept the series a trilogy and come up with a better ending.  There is a slight possibility that I will revisit this series again in the future, but only if I have nothing better to do with my time. 

3.5 out of 5 STARS

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Pretties - Scott Westerfeld

Tally Youngblood is back again and has finally become a pretty.  It feels like all her dreams have come true. She is pretty, popular, and has a hot new boyfriend.   However, she can't shake the feeling that something is not right.  When uglies crash a party, Tally is delivered a message from her old friends in The New Smoke.  After reading the letter she wrote to herself as an ugly, she re-discovers the truth about being pretty.  Now she must decide if she wants to forget the truth and live as a bubblehead forever, or go for round two against Special Circumstances.

For this to be the middle book of a trilogy, it was just okay.  Initially, seeing the world from Tally's pretty perspective seemed interesting but it was everything I expected it to be.  I 
thought the pretty jargon was cute, at first, then it became a little annoying. Pretties are simple beings who only care about fashion, drinking, and partying.  I was disappointed that this story became predictable. It may have been better to present the different perspectives (uglies, pretties, and specials) using a different main character.  However, I do like Tally.  She is a likable character and I liked her struggle against being pretty minded. She really cares about her friends and is willing to do anything to remain in their good graces.   

Pretties had some good moments but it definitely wasn't as good as Uglies, though I was relieved there wasn't an underlying message in this one.  I am interested in reading from a specials point of view; I just hope it's more interesting than the pretty perspective.   

3 out of 5 STARS

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Uglies - Scott Westerfeld

Tally Youngblood, resident of Uglyville, can't wait to turn sixteen.  In her world, your sixteenth birthday marks the day that you will get an operation to turn you pretty.  Once pretty, you move to New Pretty Town where you meet up with old friends  (now also pretty) party and have a good time all the time.  After her best friend, Peris, is turned she impatiently counts down the days to when it will be her turn and they can finally be re-united.  In the meantime, things change when she meets fellow ugly, Shay.  They quickly become besties but Shay questions whether or not she really wants to be turned pretty and decides to risk life on the outside.  After Shay runs away, the authorities give her an ultimatum: find her friend and turn her in or never turn pretty.  Her adventure and the choices she makes changes her world forever.  

Based on the description of this book, I didn't think I would like it at all.  Nonetheless, I figured I'd at least try and admittedly I had a hard time getting into the story at first.  I am surprised to say that I enjoyed this book and its originality. The world this story takes place in is really interesting.  Everyone is classified by their age.  You are a littlie and live with your parents until the age of twelve.  Ages twelve until your sixteenth birthday you are an ugly.  After turning pretty, there are two more stages that are briefly discussed but I think they are middle pretty and late pretty.  What you can and cannot do depends on your age. 

 At first, I hated Tally despite the fact that she couldn't help her shallowness and inability to think differently.  However, as the story progressed she became much more likable and my favorite character.  I really enjoyed seeing her grow as a person and discover the truth about her world. Shay was fun at first but as the story continued she didn't seem to grow as much as I thought she would.  I am planning on reading the next installment and really hope that Peris becomes more involved in the story.  

I did notice that there is a clear message in the book about the meaning of beauty.  It tackles inner beauty versus outer beauty and learning to accept yourself.  The society in which Tally is from has a set idea of beauty and that idea is instilled in them from birth.  It is common practice for uglies to use insulting names to refer to one another, sound familiar? Basically, you are not pretty unless you look a certain way and have an operation.  If everyone looks the same, what happens to individuality? It is great to realize that sometimes our flaws are what makes us beautiful and unique.  Even though this story takes place in the future, it directly correlates to our society and I think it is a great message for youngsters. I would definitely recommend this book to pre-teens and teens alike. 

4 out of 5 STARS

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