Book Review: Uglies, Pretties, Specials, by Scott Westerfeld


It’s a three-fer deal in today’s review!  I read Uglies, Pretties, and Specials over this past Christmas break and found the trilogy very well-written, a fast read, with lots of action and plenty of food for thought.

uglies pretties specials by scott westerfeld

In the world of this trilogy, everyone is an “ugly” until their 16th birthday, when they undergo a complex and invasive surgery to make them a “pretty.”  Every piece of you is affected, clear down to the grinding of your bones to make you the perfect shape and height.  The purpose of creating this utopia of beauty is to eliminate envy, differences, war.  But the heroine of the trilogy, Tally Youngblood, soon learns that something inherently personal and vital also gets eliminated in the process.

This book asks a lot of questions about the ultimate desirability of homogeny, and it puts you in a position to wonder, “What would I choose?  Beauty and ease?  Or a world of insiders/outsiders, pain, resistance?”  Westerfeld does very well in showing every detail of his futuristic world – the technology and customs and even the governments are very interesting.  I was also interested by how our current generation – called the “Rusties” in these books – are portrayed, and how Westerfeld envisions our tragic end.

The three novels tie together well, although I believe the first is far superior to the second and third.  I was impressed, however, with how Westerfeld makes the reader care for and relate to Tally, even as she evolves into something farther and farther from what she wants.  (but that’s another question, too:  how authentic are all of her protestations?  again…food for thought)  I finished each book thinking, “Now how on earth am I going to still like Tally if she’s becoming one of those?”  But again and again, I followed and rooted for her.

I have just one reservation in my applause for these books.  One of the groups that gains prominence in the story is called the “Cutters.”  Filled with angst and fueled by raw emotion, they achieve a particular mental/physical “high” when they cut themselves with special knives.  With this being such a frightening trend that happens in the REAL world of today’s teens, I was disturbed that such a group would get so much play time in these novels.  I should say that the author seems to ultimately be condemning them and their actions, but as far as cautionary tales go, I think the message comes a little too late.  The characters are established as “special” far too strongly to then be looked down on later for their behavior.  This might be something to think about or plan on discussing if you are considering these books for a teenager.

*Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links included

  • I LOVE this series. ^^ He just published /Extras/, the sequel to the three. I wouldn’t consider it part of the trilogy, and it isn’t as great as the first three, but it is a fantastic book.

    I’ve seen Extras out there, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to go any further than the end of Specials. I was very pleased with how everything was/wasn’t resolved (very clever and unexpected). sn

  • Grace A.

    KInd of similar to The Giver.

  • Grace A.

    I LOVE these books. I am ADDICTED to books. I cry. (For many reasons in this series.) You should see me. It really is interesting, seeing the way I react to these books. Extras REALLY wasn’t as good. But at least Tally was in it. I REALLY MISS ZANE. I’m glad Tally has David.

  • nicole

    is there going to be a 5th book? i really loved extras.

  • Hayden Lane

    Stupid Book.

  • raena

    i read all the books uglies pretties specials and extras and i loved them all. they were the best books that i ever read. i love how scott westerfeld was able to put love fiction adveture and many other things in these books. they were so captivating i absolutely loved them

  • devilsnipersgirl

    I started these books 2 weeks before school was out just until my other series let out the 4th book (breaking dawn) but I never imagined that they were this interesting. I laughed, cried and even got pretty upset when stuff happened. Almost through with extras and getting ready to begin peeps.

  • chaun

    i read the first three and is now reading extras i want to know if there is going to be another book? if any one knows write back to my ? cuz i really want to know.<3<3

  • chaun

    hey nicole i hope theres a fith book two this is the 1st time i actullay liked reading so i want to keep goin on its just so cool

  • i love the uglies series and i miss Zane i hope there will be a 5th book

  • wandering.story

    I can’t tell you how much I LOVE these books. Although I’ve owned it for about a year I can never bring myself to read Extras for fear that it will ruin my perfect ending for this book. my friend and I are actually dressing us as “smokies” for halloween! 😀

  • chelsie

    i love these books and there is a 5th book its called bubbly to bogus

  • daisy

    there needs to be a fifth book. i just got done reading EXTRAS and it was almost as good as Twilight. I read it within 2 days! It would be ah~bsolutly ah~mazing if there was a fifth!!