Welcome to the world 300 years from now where everyone turn pretty when they reach 16 years. Before that they are Littlies and from around 12 years, they are Uglies. Uglies is also the title of the first book in Scott Westerfeld’s trilogy about Tally Youngblood. When we first meet Tally, she is only a month from her 16th birthday, and she is feeling lonely in Uglyville, the part of the city where all the 12-15 year old teens live in dorms, go to school and pass time until they turn 16 so that they can have their operation and go from being Uglies into New Pretties.
Tally’s best friend Peris, who is a month older than her, has already turned pretty, and Tally is bored and lonely. One night she sneaks into New Pretty Town, where all New Pretties are doing nothing but partying and enjoying themselves. After meeting Peris and feeling relieved that he still remembers her, she returns to Uglyville, but en route she meets another Ugly, Shay. Shay and Tally become friends, and it is Shay who tell Tally about The Smoke, a settlement where no one has had the operation, they have all stayed ugly. Shay is determined to stay Ugly, she wants to move to The Smoke and lead another life than just being a pretty party gal.
Tally is shocked and horrified that anyone would want to stay an Ugly, and she does not put much into Shay’s speeches about The Smoke. In fact, Tally doubts that it even exists. When Shay does disappear before her 16th birthday and her operation, Tally decides not to follow her. Tally cannot wait to turn into a Pretty, and is picked up by the authorities on her birthday and taken to the hospital, where the operation is done. But something is not right, and very soon Tally is looking into a serious dilemma, leading her towards Shay and The Smoke and away from the operation she so much want.
Uglies was an interesting read with an interesting premise, but I was not swept completely away. I think the book took too long to get going, but when it got going, it was a great read. I am looking forward to the other books in the trilogy (although I guess it is sort of a quartet, since there is a 4th book as well).