Author: Scott Westerfeld
Page Count/Review Word Count: 446
This book was okay, but I didn’t think it lived up to the hype. I actually picked this up from a charity shop after having read and enjoyed Zeroes, but I think that set my expectations too high because while this read was okay, it just wasn’t enough to impress me.
It’s pretty cool that Westerfeld used the YA genre to hold a mirror up towards our own society, and to use it to reflect on whether we spend too much time worrying about the way that we look, but it did also feel cliche in places. The worldbuilding was good, but because I didn’t like the world it was set in, that doesn’t really count for much. That said, in many ways that’s the point – that’s why it’s dystopian.
In the world of this trilogy, people are ‘ugly‘ until they turn sixteen, when they have an operation to make them beautiful. But it’s not quite as idyllic as it might sound, and our hero finds herself trying to get to the bottom of a mystery that plagues all of society. It’s pretty standard YA dystopian stuff, which explains two things to me – why everyone raves about this book, and why it didn’t really grab my attention. It just didn’t stand out. And I get annoyed by the front cover, which says, “Before The Hunger Games, there was… Uglies.” It doesn’t really sell it to me, because I haven’t read The Hunger Games and I have no desire to.
I actually think this would have worked better as a standalone. I mean, that’s how I read it, and how it’ll stay in my memory, because I have no desire to finish off the series. But the fact that it was written as the first book in a series was a turn off for me because I didn’t want to keep reading – if it had ended where it did, it would’ve been the perfect length, but it didn’t.
And so overall, I think there’s some potential here, but I can’t hold my hand on my heart and recommend this book over others. It’s the sort of thing that you should read if all of your friends have read it, but that you’re not going to enjoy so much if they haven’t. It’s also a good read if you’re into dystopian fiction or if you’re a young adult yourself.
If you don’t want to take the risk, then go for Zeroes – which is by the same author – instead. I felt like the characters were more developed, and the story was better.