Saturday, July 12, 2008


1. Bibliography: Westerfield, Scott. Uglies. New York: Simon Pulse, 2005.

2. Genre and Awards:
Science Fiction/Teen Fiction

American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults - 2006; School Library Journal Best Books of the Year - 2005; VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers - 2005

3. Synopsis:
In Tally’s world, everything hinges on your sixteenth birthday—the birthday when you are “turned pretty.” Tally’s best friend has already undergone the surgery that has changed him from ugly to pretty, and Tally can’t wait for her transformation so that she can join her community of beautiful people. But as Tally continues to engage in pranks and test the limits of her ugly confinement, she meets a new friend, Shay, who may not want what Tally has always viewed as the pinnacle of her existence. When Shay runs away, Tally is faced with either betraying her friend or loosing her chance to achieve everything she has thought that she wanted.

4. Characters:
In the Uglies, Westerfield does a great job of using minor characters to really make a huge impact. Tally is delightful, she is mischievous and daring, but she also undergoes a transformation during the book. Shay becomes Tally’s friend, but I am not sure I ever really connected with Shay. Even though she is certainly the catalyst for Tally’s journey, I never really believed in her motivations. The people in Pretty Town are great—Westerfield really captures a world that everyone wants to be in, but why? Peris, Tally’s best friend before he was changed seems to have a touch of sincerity in his feelings for Tally, but then again, Westerfield has created a world in which nothing is questioned, so everything should be questioned. When David comes into the picture, for me, the book was made even deeper. David is great, I really loved him, and I wanted the best for him and his family.

5. Plot:
The plot of this book revolves around Tally’s quest to become pretty. As readers, we may already be suspicious of a society that turns everyone pretty, but Westerfield incorporates historical data to make the reader (if not agree with) understand how a society like this could be possible in the future. Tally befriends another girl, Shay, who runs away in an attempt to keep her original face. Tally is forced to find Shay or never become pretty. When Tally goes on her quest, she learns about the truth of becoming pretty, and is faced with an impossible dilemma.

6. Needs of adolescents:
Uglies deals with the pressure we all have to conform. It also deals subtly with ideas of societal pressures that seem trifling, but lead to devastation. Although readers will probably root for Tally, it is good to acknowledge that while the idea of changing everyone’s individuality to ensure safety might be deplorably, has it made Tally’s world safer?

Uglies addresses the cost of conformity. It would be a great book for anyone struggling with merging their identity into the identity of their family, community or world. 15-17 year old girls, especially, will connect with Tally’s desire to become pretty and fit in. However, the book is full of action and excitement so that young men will probably also be drawn in to Tally’s journey. Westerfield creates many characters who have many different ideas about conformity, and the best part is, there is no judgment about who is right or wrong, so readers can actively discuss these ideas.

7. Possible Classroom Uses:
Uglies would be ideal for a small group discussion. It would also probably work as a read aloud for freshman or sophomores. I think it would connect really well with Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World. I think it would also connect with Catcher in the Rye.8. Appropriate Age Range

8. Appropriate Age Range:

Uglies would be a great book for advanced 8th grade readers, but would work well for 9-12 grades.

9. Personal Reactions
So, I am not much of a science fiction person, but some teachers I know really loved this book. I was skeptical when I picked it up. However, I really liked it. The ending was awesome, and I can’t wait to read Specials. I loved this book because while it could be preachy, it isn’t. It attempts to show the flawed logic behind a society that wants conformity in order to maintain peace. I appreciated the fact that Tally wasn’t originally a true rebel, just a girl out for fun. She is truly a dynamic character and I really thought her relationships with Peris and David were genuine. I think this book could help reluctant readers get into a series and accomplish some serious reading because Westerfield is truly a master of leaving you wanting more!

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