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