by Scott Westerfeld

Paperback, 2011





S&S Books for Young Readers (2011), Edition: Reissue, 432 pages


Just before their sixteenth birthdays, when they will will be transformed into beauties whose only job is to have a great time, Tally's best friend runs away and Tally must find her and turn her in, or never become pretty at all.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

432 p.; 8.25 inches

Media reviews

The Uglies books are the perfect parables of adolescent life, where adult-imposed milestones, rituals, and divide-and-rule tactics amp children's natural adolescent insecurities into a full-blown, decade-long psychosis.

User reviews

LibraryThing member elizabethholloway
The Uglies works on a purely escapist level and on a thematic level. In terms of plot, this is Logan's Run meets Stepford teens with great action and adventure. On a thematic level, this novel calls on readers to question their own assumptions about beauty, perfection, and the worth of the
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individual. Along with Tally, we first admire the beauty of the pretties and then come to see their emptiness. At the same time, it is a story about a powerful girl who faces adversity and becomes a more complex and empathetic person as a result.
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LibraryThing member chibimajo
At first, I wasn’t too impressed with it, but then by the end of the book I was like, what? it’s over? And I don’t have the sequel???? So, yeah, it’s Scott Westerfeld, who is a great writer.
LibraryThing member MoniqueReads
I just thought that this book was average. The writing was average, the characters were average, the plot was average. It was all over very average. Nothing really stands out but the concept and so it makes it hard for me to write a decent review.

I really could not connect to any of the characters
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in the story. I do not think that it had anything to do with most of the characters being teenagers but more so the authors ability. None of the characters really grabbed at me. Their personalities did not really shine through and that made it hard for me to care what happened to them.

The writing at times was a little annoying. Westerfeld's word choice is off. I know that he is trying to create this futuristic world. But it is not very imaginative. For example the town names; Pretty Town, Ugly Town,Crumblyville. He should have put in just a tab bit of more effort. He also used the term "littlies" to refer to individuals between under the age of 12. That word made me cringe everytime I read it, it is so awkward and messed up the flow of my reading.

I do like how Westerfeld did not fully close the book. It sort of forces the reader to pick up the others. Not because you really care what happens. But because you are curious to see what happens to Tally after she has made her final choice.

I did think the overall concept was good. Plastic surgery normal and the expected. But Westerfeld could have went so much further than he did with this concept. Even for a book geared towards young adults.
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LibraryThing member RagenLambert
“Uglies” is a speculative fiction story about an ugly named Tally. She can’t wait to become a pretty to be with her best guy friend, Peris. While she is waiting for her 16th birthday for her surgery, she meets a new friend named Shay. Shay runs away and Tally must find her before she will be
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able to get her “pretty” surgery. The story is the journey of Tally finding Shay and questioning everything she has ever known.

To help teach with this book, a teacher could use this book along with a unit of self –worth or their own changing bodies. Being a teenager, they go through transformations every day. A teacher could use this book to help explain that changes will happen and it is normal. It can also use this book as a model of how our society values beauty now. Our society is obsessed with everyone being beautiful or perfect. A teacher could use this book to explain that there is nothing wrong with how they look. That normal is beautiful.

I really did enjoy reading this book. It was very neat to see this futuristic world. There were parts that I could not stand. When Tally was on her journey to see Shay I got really bored. I thought it didn’t have anything for the story at all. This book really made me think how much our society cares about beauty and being perfect. I know that our society is obsessed with being pretty but I did not realize the direction it is taking us as a world. I realized that if we kept on that we would basically turn into the “Uglies/Pretties” world.
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LibraryThing member LindseyHerring
Uglies is set in a post-apocalyptic world and follows the journey of Tally, a young girl quickly approaching her 16th birthday where she will undergo plastic surgery and become a "New Pretty." Up until this point, Tally has lived as an "Ugly." Her journey to her surgery is interrupted when she
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meets Shay, another "Ugly" who manages show Tally that being a "Pretty" may not be exactly what Tally has imagined.

I think that this book would be a good book for adolescents. Young adults can relate to the desire to be pretty and perfect. Also, I think the characters are easily relateable. Kids can relate to Tally in the fact that she strives to be like everyone else and doesn't see why anyone would want to be different; and kids can also relate to Shay's rebellion and need to find herself.

I enjoyed reading this book. It opened my eyes to some of my own personal thoughts of beauty. I think the need to be pretty and perfect in the book represents a dramatized version of society's obsession with what is pretty and how to be beautiful in this day in time.
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LibraryThing member Nicole.Virden
"Uglies" is a book about a girl named Tally who lives in a town called uglyville where all "uglies" live until they turn 16 and can have a surgery performed on them to make them pretty, then they move to a town called new pretty town. Tally can not wait to become pretty so that she can be with her
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best friend Peris. During her wait to become pretty, she meets a fellow ugly named Shay. Shay introduces her to a town called the smokes where you never have to have a surgery to become pretty. After many life changing events, Tally learns the truth about being pretty and ends up having to rescue her new friends from the smokes.

This is an amazing book that could be used in a junior high classroom. It is really strange but in the same way can teach things about the world. I really think this book portrays how the world really is. Most kids from age 12-16 go through this "awkward stage" and usually grow out of it after 16. In a sense they "become pretty." The book could send a bad message though, because it could teach kids that you have to be pretty in order to enjoy life, have fun, or be anything for that matter. On the positive, it could teach kids that something may seem awesome and be something everyone else does and makes your life better, but you really need to look farther into it before you decide to take part because it could be misleading.

This is probably my favorite book we have read for class so far. It took me a couple of chapters to get into it and I thought that I would not like it but now I really want to read the rest of the series. It was not what I expected and it kept me on my toes because there were so many points in the book where I was freaking out along with the characters. While reading a book, I always have an idea of how I would like for the story to end and while reading this book, that idea changed about 3 or 4 times. That kept it extremely interesting.
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LibraryThing member ErisofDiscord
Note: Potential spoilers, but not huge ones

Tally Youngblood is a typical teenaged girl in a futuristic society where people are divided into two groups: Uglies - people who are imperfect and disgusting, who bear the face they were born with, and Pretties - those who had extreme cosmetic surgery,
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and were made beautiful at the age of sixteen. Tally only wants to be a Pretty, but when her best friend, Shay, runs away to join a rebellious city, called the Smoke, that resists being Pretty, she must bring Shay back, or never become Pretty.

I think that Tally as a character was very interesting, and I liked how she evolved as the story went on. Even when her only goal in life was to become pretty, she was still a character that you emphasized with.

The novel took place in a variety of settings, from the city that Tally was from to the Smoke, it was described very descriptively. Westerfeld has an engaging writing style that made me move through the book fairly quickly.

There was a scene that stood out in my mind: the infestation of white orchids. This scene comes when Tally is traveling to the Smoke and is rescued from a wildfire by the rangers, Pretties who manage a invasive orchid that chokes off the life of the surrounding plants. The orchids are very beautiful, but there are so many of them, and they give no other plant the chance at life. I suppose that the orchids are representative of the Pretties, stopping anyone else from looking different. What I thought was peculiar was that Tally completely understood why the beautiful orchids had to be stopped, although at the time, she still believed that it was terrible to be an Ugly, and that everyone should be Pretty.

All in all, I very much enjoyed this book, and I cannot wait to read the second book in the series, Pretties. This book made me think about the pressures of our present society to be "beautiful" or "pretty" - I see this all the time in magazines like "Cosmopolitian" and "Glamour." Of course, magazines like that are careful to sometimes talk about "inner beauty" and "self confidence," but you turn the page and there's an advertisement with an underfed model looking like a slut. Uglies shows the danger of such thinking through the outlet of fiction, and I am happy that Uglies confronted the issue in a unique manner.

(This review was done as a part of my 75 Books Challenge for 2012, at the LibraryThing group of the same name.)
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LibraryThing member goose114
This story is about a society in the future were after the age of sixteen everyone undergoes plastic surgery to make them “pretty.” The main character, Tally, is faced with the option of going through the surgery and joining her best friend in New Pretty Town or following a new friend to a
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mysterious city where people live in the wild and remain “ugly for life.” While Tally makes her decisions about helping city officials or helping her new friend she is unaware of the ramifications on society.

While this novel is labeled as young adult literature it tackles some mature topics and really evokes a lot of thought from the reader. There were times while reading that I was irritated at the immaturity of the writing. I do not know whether this was the author’s style or simply the fact that it was written for a young reader. The overarching story and big picture ideas were intriguing and well written therefore making the juvenile aspects forgettable and forgivable. I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a thought provoking adventure in a dystopia world.
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LibraryThing member svh_mad
I was given this book as a gift by one of my friends. My instant thought was "Oh no, I'm going to have to pretend to like this!"

I didn't like it in the end...I loved it! It's a teen book that could easily be read by an adult and enjoyed. On a basic level there's a wonderful sci fi story, but dig
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little deeper and the book contains a very superficial future and a lot of negative views about the "rusties" - us!

I'm not a huge sci fi and don't enjoy complicated explanations of unusual technologies, this book managed to indulge my love of sci fi without me getting confused.
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LibraryThing member rainbowdarling
This book started out slowly for me. I wasn’t overly enthralled by it to start with. The writing style seemed to me incredibly juvenile. I know it’s young adult literature but I guess I figure that the style doesn’t have to be. Young adults can understand it just as well if it’s written in
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an adult style which displays a knowledge of good writing.

The story, as I mentioned, was slow to start. I wasn’t really buying into the world and the story until probably three quarters of the way through it. Tally was fairly annoying and Shay wasn’t much better, while Will seemed the most human and as a result almost seemed like a Mary Sue (or, well, Gary Stu).

I would say that I didn’t think this was a great book, but it was alright. I enjoyed it by the end and was interested in reading about how the story transpired further, but once I’ve read them through once, I have a feeling I’ll be inclined to give them away rather than keep them around for re-reading. If the next two books are the same as this one in style, plot speed and story, I’d say that this would not be a staple book series, even for young adults.
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LibraryThing member ShelbyJoMcKay
Uglies is a novel about a distopian society. All of its inhabitants undergo a surgery on their 16th birthday that symmetrically aligns their face, perfectly constructs their bodies, oh and controls their brain! Tally is two months away from the surgery when she meets a new friend, Shay. No one
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knows about the lesions, but still some people run away from the society in an attempt to keep themselves present(physically). As she fleets the scene, attention is redirected to Tally by the local law enforcement group called "Specials". She is sent as a spy to find Shay and the other runaways. Will she turn her friend over? Or will Tally risk everything and be "ugly" forever?

I really love this book! In a classroom of eighth or ninth graders I would probably teach this. There are some sexual indications when she goes through the "pleasure gardens". Also, I think it would be a good opportunity for the students to get into groups and create their representation of the Smoke, New Pretty Town, or the Ruins. I could see myself doing a lot with this book.

Uglies was easy to read and I could not put it down..again! I read these books in ninth and tenth grade. I love how daring Tallly is and how you can see her going through this process of finding herself. She has always been a trickster, but only because she was bored. Now everything she once knew as an absolute has been turned upside down and shattered. She takes it all as it comes, and saves the day. She is truly inspirational.
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LibraryThing member lindabeekeeper
Beauty and ugliness, free-will and control are the themes of this book. Fifteen year old Tally Youngblood is counting the minutes until her sixteenth birthday, when she can become beautiful. Her best friend Peris has already had the operation and is living the life of a "new pretty". Tally, still
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an "ugly" is desperately lonely until she meets Shay, an independent hoverboard expert who is not sure she wants to be pretty. Together, they go on wild, high risk adventures even outside of the city. When Shay disappears, Tally is forced by Special Operations to find her. The penalty for failure--being ugly forever.

Reminiscent of the Tripod series, Uglies is an excellent exploration of both the culture of the beautiful ideal and the control it exerts over us.

Tally awakens to an alternative reality, where beauty and ugliness have different definitions. And, she realizes there is a price to pay for beauty--one's free will.

While the book takes place in a future world, it is also a metaphor for high school. To most teenagers, the popular and beautiful live a separate, privilege-filled life, while all the normal people strive and hope to become part of the inner circle. But, in high school, like in Uglies, being a "pretty" also means giving up quirky creativity and independence.

This is a good read for both sexes.
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LibraryThing member aprilmcmullen
The Uglies is a series about this "perfect world" that makes everybody pretty. So you have to go through this ugly stage until the age of sixteen then you will have your first of many surgries. You also have some who choose to stay ugly because they feel that looks doesnt make you, and they have
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their own mind.

I will surely teach this in my class because in reality we leave in a world almost like the book. We think that looks are everything but really beauty is skin deep. The society and the media makes younger children think that they have to look, dress, talk a certain why to fit in with the world.

I tolally recommend this book to everybody it makes you look at life in a different perception
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LibraryThing member SarahCoil
The “Uglies” is a book that is very futuristic. Everybody is considered ugly until they turn sixteen. When they turn sixteen, they have plastic surgery to make them pretty. In this society, beauty is only skin deep. The Smoke is where some kids go to avoid having surgery. Here, the main
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character, Tally will learn what true beauty is. She learns that it is what’s on the inside that matters most.
This book would be great in a classroom. Students struggle to try to fit in everyday. Students could discuss what the world would be like if they were only judged by what they looked like and what it would feel like to be called an ugly. Also, it would be beneficial for students to write a paper on what makes a person beautiful in their minds. This would cause them to think about what is really important instead of just being pretty or the cool kid in school.
I really liked this book. I really liked how Tally learned what was truly important in the end. At first she wanted to be pretty, but then she realized that she was pretty without plastic surgery. However, she was still willing to make that sacrifice for the people that she truly cared about.
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LibraryThing member sboyte
I liked it.

I didn't love it, though. I felt that it started with a fascinating premise, but it didn't quite take off quickly enough. In fact, the first two thirds of the book were quite dull. The action did pick up considerably in the last few chapters, and I had a hard time putting the book down
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towards the end.

The pick up in action coincided with a change in the main character, which also made the book more enjoyable. In the start, the main character is a bit whiny. All she does is complain about how badly she wants to get to the city and become a popular, pretty, party-animal. She does eventually figure out that it is better to be a unique individual than a beautiful automaton, but it's frustrating watching her get there.

The second books looks like it will be keeping up the pace!
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LibraryThing member MrFClass
I thought this actoion packed science fiction book was an awsome book! It always kept me interested. It is about a young girl named Tally, she is about to have an operation that will turn her pretty. But everything she knows changes when she meets a girl named Shay. Shay runs away and Tally is
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faced with a decisson that will change her whole life: Turn in her best friend or stay ugly... forever.This book is the first of the series I would also get the other 3 books!
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LibraryThing member erinmcewen
Intriguing story structure. I would have liked it better if the main character hadn't succeeded in lying for so much of the story. I would have thought that the survivalists would be better at spotting lies.
LibraryThing member gcastoria36
"Uglies" by Scott Westerfeld is a young adult fiction book. This is the first book in the Uglies series. This story focuses around a young girl, Tally who is about to turn 16. In this future look of Earth, when somebody turns 16 they get an operation that causes them to be beautiful. Tally meets
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another 15 year old, Shay, and they are the last two in their group who are still "ugly". Shay is reluctant to get the surgery and runs away to a place where there is no surgery or government controlling your life. This book follows Tally on her search for her friend, with the threat of never becoming pretty if Shay is not found. Along the way, Tally learns that her perfect world has it's dark secrets, and changes her life forever. This is a really amazing book and series and I would definitely suggest it to young readers. It teaches them to love the skin they are in, because beauty comes with a price.
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LibraryThing member aero1026
Great book! I listened to this one on audio while driving on a road trip. I was so engrossed in the book, that I didn't even want to turn my car off once I arrived at my destination for fear of missing what came next. Uglies is a book about something we all go through: trying to find ourselves
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while we are not ready to do so. This book addresses so many different real life conflicts that young adults have to deal with as well as adults. The character development is very descriptive as is the setting. I could actually imagine the places the author was taking me. If you enjoy books like The Hunger Games, you will like this book as well.
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LibraryThing member dasuzuki
I thought this was a great concept especially since we live in a world where people are sucking fat out of all parts of their body, reshaping their noses, getting breast implants, etc. Whose to say we will not end up in a world where everyone is beautiful. It is actually a kind of scary thought. I
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did find it funny that at one point some of the uglies see pictures of people from our time like the super skinny models and find them ugly because they look like they are starving and that was what we found beautiful.

Shay and Tally are both characters. They almost seem to be two halves of one person. Shay is the more impulsive, bold half where Tally is the more hesitant side that likes to conform to what people expect of her. It will be nice to see if they can help each other grow the other half of their personality. I am excited to see what happens in the next book to see what becomes of the uglies that do not want to become pretties and where David and Tally’s relationship go.
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LibraryThing member voracious
I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected to. It started out rather slow but once it got going, I couldn't put it down and had to finish it almost in 1 sitting. Although the writing is clearly at a juvenile level, the excitement and the imagination of the futuristic, post-apocolyptic world was
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nicely done. I can't get my hands on the next book fast enough!
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LibraryThing member ewyatt
Tally is anxious for her 16th birthday when she can finally have the operation and become Pretty. She crashes a party in New Pretty Town to visit her best friend Peris. During her frantic escape she meets Shay, a friend who has decided to run to a place called The Smoke and not have the operation.
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Tally is forced by the evil Special Circumstances to follow Shay and reveal the location of The Smoke. An interesting look into the future and the complexities of brains vs. beauty and the ability of people to control their own decisions and lives. The first in a series.
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LibraryThing member nbmars
There have been a plethora of good YA dystopic novels lately, and Uglies is no exception. Even though I guessed what would happen, I couldn’t put it down.

It starts rather jarringly. The first line is “The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit.” But this does set the tone for what life
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is like as an “ugly.” Children in Uglyville are brought up to believe that normal looks are repulsive, and life really doesn't begin until their 16th birthdays, when they can undergo the surgery that will transform them into “pretties.” Not only will they then be mesmerizingly attractive, but they get to go live in Pretty Town, where basically the only activity is partying.

As they were growing up, Tally and her best friend Peris used to sneak over to Pretty Town at night, ostensibly to make fun of the vapidity of Pretties, but in reality just to goggle:

"There was something magic in their large and perfect eyes, something that made you want to pay attention to whatever they said, to protect them from any danger, to make them happy. They were so…pretty.”

Unfortunately for Tally, Peris has his sixteenth birthday three months before hers, and so she is left alone in Uglyville and friendless until she meets Shay, a girl who is not only an outsider like her, but whose birthday is on the very same day.

Shay startles Tally by telling her that she doesn't want to be pretty, and confesses that she plans to escape the city before her birthday. She tells Tally that outside the towns, there are settlers living in nature, free to use their brains and be who they are. But Tally wants more than anything to be pretty. Shay leaves by herself, and Tally prepares for her surgery.

To Tally’s astonishment, she is not taken into surgery but instead to the headquarters of Special Circumstances, a department full of people not only enhanced in looks but in other physical ways, whose aim is to keep renegades in line. They insist Tally go after Shay and reveal her whereabouts, or they will leave Tally ugly forever – by far the worse fate society could bestow upon a young person, so Tally agrees.

In “The Smoke,” as the free settlement is called, Tally finds out what happened to The Rusties - the old inhabitants of the planet from the twenty-first century - three hundred years earlier - and why being "Pretty" is supposedly so "desirable." She also learns a whole new way to think about uglies, and she learns a critical secret as well about Pretty Town. But can she give up becoming a Pretty and escape her past?

Evaluation: What a good story! A lot of the plot is predictable, but the book is very entertaining nonetheless. The details of the dystopia are clever, and keep your interest. You come to like the characters enough to want to know how they change and grow. I was on the edge of my seat for a good portion of the book. And best of all, I cleverly procured a copy of Book 2 in the series, Pretties, so I would have it right on hand when I finished this one!
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LibraryThing member liberlibri
So good I read the whole series. I have a soft spot for post-apocalyptic tales. There's a not-so-subtle message in these books that should give readers a chance to take a good look in the mirror.
LibraryThing member cestovatela
Sometimes, a book is called young adult because the main characters are teenagers even though the themes and writing style would satisfy adults. That's not the case with Uglies, but it's still an enjoyable read.

Like most teens living in a dystopian future, Tally Youngblood grows up thinking her
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world is a paradise. She spends her days in unchallenging classes and her evenings playing practical jokes. When she turns 16, like everyone else in her city, she'll receive special plastic surgery to make her classically beautiful; until then, she can sneak out of her dorm room to spy on New Pretty Town, where young, gorgeous people party all night and all day.

Tally's life changes when she meets Shay, who is determined not to get the surgery. On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, Shay runs away to the Smoke, a small colony of rebels who live close to nature and think for themselves. The authorities give Tally a choice: she can find Shay and bring her back to the city for surgery, or she can stay ugly forever.

Predictably, moral conflict and emotional angst ensue, but to its credit, the book keeps teen melodrama to a minimum. If Tally's inner journey is a bit predictable, the author at least keeps the book entertaining with his thoroughly detailed and imaginative settings. My only complaint is that the book has very little interest in developing its themes in a thoughtful or mature way. A book like this could examine some very complex ideas, but when I was reading, my thoughts never probed deeper than "what will happen next?" That's why this book gets three and a half stars instead of four, but I'll probably still read the sequel.
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½ (3995 ratings; 3.9)
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