Book Review of the Month
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction – Dystopian
Title: Pretties (Uglies #2)
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Length: 345 pages
Publication: 2005 by Simon Pulse
But beneath all the fun — the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom — is a nagging sense that something’s wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally’s ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what’s wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold.
Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life — because the authorities don’t intend to let anyone with this information survive.
‘Pretties’ is written in third person past tense limited. In other words, we follow a single character. While the single character, Tally, a sixteen-year-old ‘pretty’ girl, isn’t telling the story herself, the narrator informs us as to what Tally thinks and feels during the events that unfold. Given the young age of the character, we are more acceptable of some her mannerisms and the way she interacts with her world.
World: Book two explores the advanced-technology of New Pretty Town, a world designed to be super-safe, unbreakable, and a haze of bliss for the young pretties inhabiting it. In that sense, the world is amazing! The technology and capabilities adds an exciting futuristic feel, even though it’s a dystopian society. However, the way the technology is used by the young pretties leaves the technology under-utilized and vapid, leaving me craving for more. I would’ve liked to see more advanced technology. Though most of what is shown about New Pretty Town is simple and based off current technology, hardly satiating the imagination.
Pacing: Like the first book the pace of the book speeds up as your read, spanning a few months in the beginning and only a matter of days in the last part of the book. It didn’t have nearly the same intensity as the first book, which slowed it down. Most of the book was used for building, but it was a slow build that left me a little disappointed at the climax, following a similar ending of the first book in the series.
Writing: I love how the first part of the book is written. The speech and terminology used by the pretties is dumbed down to express their vapid, self-centered nature, intensified by how excessive and over-used the words are, but it’s contagious. It really shows the atmosphere of New Pretty Town. Such a utilization could be considered annoying, but I enjoyed the way the speech appropriately explained the nature and mindset of the young pretties.
Characters: In this sequel Tally Youngblood is still our main character and due to her recent surgery she’s even more selfish and self-centered than she was before. Even after she takes the ‘cure’ she doesn’t across any less interested in the people around her. There is far more internal struggle for Tally than the first book, which really delves into her character, but she never quite seems to overcome her naturally selfish nature, even in her attempts to save the people around.
Plot: The overarching plot of this sequel is reversing the effects of the brain lesions caused by the pretty surgery. The progression from pretty-minded to ugly-minded, or bubbly, is gradual, which makes the transformation believable. Tally aids the process by doing things that send her pulse racing. In other words, adrenaline seems to be the trigger. It makes sense given that the pretties never have to feel fear, anger, or anything other than happiness and safety, but adrenaline goes against that.
Everything seems to go wrong for Tally, though, as she tries to make herself bubbly. Instead of the interface ring, she’s given a cuff that she can’t take off. So, she can’t escape the city easily and she also can’t even speak freely. Zane’s cured, but has constant headaches like something’s gone wrong. The cuff sets the hot air balloon on fire. Tally misses her window to jump from the basket. She loses her board in the river. She’s stuck inside a reservation for pre-Rusties.
Even in the constant mess of her plans, she somehow manages to pull out an answer to everything and find her way out of each problem… perfectly. The cuffs just need excessive heat to expand and slip over her wrist. There just happens to be gloves that protect her arms from any amount of heat, making that possible and even Zane manages to slip out of his cuff. A bottle of champagne is sitting in the hot air balloon to extinguish the flames. She passes right over a river, giving her a perfect place to jump. Somehow she manages to survive the current, make it to shore unscathed and still only be a seven-day hike from the Rusty Ruins. The Specials just happen to be arriving in the reservation and she manages to steal their hovercraft without any problems, making it to the ruins to find David and the others without any more hitches.
It all just worked out a little too perfectly and everyone else made it alive, too, even if Zane lost half his brain. Though, I have to say that I actually am glad that the love triangle existed in this book because of the fact that I like Zane a heck of a lot better than I like David. David just doesn’t seem real. He doesn’t seem truly capable of love, or accepting Tally for who she is, and their relationship never seemed real. So, I’m happy that Tally picks Zane in the end. He’s a much more likable and believable character than David ever was.
The ending of the book with Shay being a Special is the best part. Shay’s corruption and desire for revenge is the most believable part of the book, even if it makes her the most selfish character in the series, but that’s what makes her corruption real. She doesn’t apologize for who she is. She doesn’t try to pretend like she’s a nice person in the way Tally does. With that being said I leave my rating of this book at three stars.
Random Comments: The reservation wasn’t necessary. This felt so out-of-place from the rest of the story and it didn’t interest me at all, nor did I understand Tally’s desire to rescue them from the cruelty of the Specials. It was also such a short part of the book. It was, however, connected to the Specials, which leads me to believe that it’ll be an important aspect in the third book, which disappoints me a little. I’d like this book a lot more if the reservation weren’t in it at all.