Book Review: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld
Series: Uglies, #1
Publication Date: February 8th 2005 by Simon Pulse
Rating: |

Summary: Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license — for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. 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 the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

Review Overview:

  • Without a doubt, this book makes you think about society today and in the future
  • Romance felt a little bit rushed; there’s a bit of chemistry — but it’s really not the focus of the novel
  • Hoping to read the rest of the series before school starts in the fall!

I had been wanting to read this series for a very long time, but I never really got around to getting a copy. My friend Tasha is a huge fan of the series and finally lent me hers and I finally got around to reading it. Unfortunately, I started reading UGLIES in the middle of finals, BEA, and the end of the semester which meant that I really did not have much time to just sit down and read. My reading experience had been extremely choppy and it made it difficult to really get into the book. However, despite my personal setbacks, I was still able to enjoy UGLIES overall, and it definitely made me think.

Tally lives in a society where at sixteen, you turn pretty. Initially, I found many, if not all, to be extremely shallow. Uglies called each other terrible names like Zitface and Squint that basically pointed out their flaws. There is this obsession with facial symmetry and looking perfect, and Tally could not wait until she turns pretty herself and moves to Pretty Town across the river. I didn’t think that I was going to be able to relate to Tally at all, but she does grow as a character as the book progresses. We learn the secrets behind becoming pretty – secrets that still make my mind boggle – and Tally realizes that the whole world that she had known growing up may not be as perfect as it looks.

Other than the issues of self-image, beauty, and plastic surgery, Weseterfeld also brings up many topics that makes readers think. The book is way more than just about a teenager in a world where everyone turns pretty. He also makes readers think about issues such as genetic modification and experimental medicine. Like a good dystopian novel, he made me think of society today and how our actions could impact the world in the future.

There is a bit of romance in the novel, though it is far from the main focus. I did feel that it was a bit rushed, but there is some chemistry between the two characters. The romance does play a bigger part toward the end of the novel, and I am curious how it picks back up in the second book.

UGLIES definitely gives readers a lot to think about. Westerfeld is a fantastic world-builder and he absolutely makes you stop to think while reading. UGLIES is a fantastic example of what a dystopian novel should do: it should entertain but also make you question your actions and today’s society and how it could affect that future. The scariest part about the UGLIES? While the concept seems outrageous, there are probably many people out there who wouldn’t mind living amongst beautiful people.

I can’t wait to continue the rest of the series! I hope I can get to them all before school starts up again in the fall. UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld is definitely recommended to fans of dystopia and science fiction.


  1. I must agree, this book definitely gives you a lot to think about! I just finished the trilogy and liked it, so I hope you do. I will be reading Extras soon! :)

  2. Okay. I have to know: in your opinion, is this series a must-read? I hear nothing but raving reviews for these, and you’re one of the first to point out some flaws. I’ve been on the fence for ages, so I’m curious as to whether they’re really all that and a bag of chips.

  3. This is one of my favorite series! I absolutely love these books! I’m glad to hear you liked this first book. It just gets better from here. :)

    And I also agree with what you said about dystopian novels, and this one definitely does that.

  4. I adore these books! I know a lot of people say the first book is the best, but my favorite is actually Specials, the third book. Hope you continue reading these! They’re really unique books, and so is Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy. :)

    1. Well I better keep reading and judge for myself which one is the best! I really hope I have time to read the whole series this summer!

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