A book review for parents
This second futuristic fantasy book in the "Uglies" series by Scott Westerfeld is published by Thorndike Press, an imprint of Thomson-Gale.
Pretties is written for kids ages 12 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
In Tally Youngblood's futuristic world, the society leaders provide everyone with surgery that makes them "pretty" when they turn 16. Tally contentedly parties with other attractive people until she realizes another component to prettiness: The surgery also alters people's minds by rendering them complacent and obedient. Friends from her past life as an Ugly smuggle her pills that will supposedly cure her of her mental fog, and she and her boyfriend, Zane, along with several other pretties, escape from Pretty Town. When Tally gets separated from her friends, she has to find her way back to them through the wilderness. Ultimately, an old friend of Tally's from Pretty Town — who now works for the leaders of their society — forces Tally to become a "Special" operative.
For whatever reason, parents are rarely part of the world in which Tally lives. The adults she encounters are either the enemy (special forces that keep everyone pretty and unaware) or clueless middle-age adults called "middle pretties." Because pretties are basically indestructible physically — and because they are simple and vain — there's no need for the Specials to keep them from drinking and partying to their hearts' content. Tally's childhood friend David had parents; they were protective of him and strove to find a cure for the "pretty" mind control.
Other Belief Systems
The author clearly sends the message about the threat some types of technology and energy consumption may pose to the environment. A primitive tribe of people believes Tally is a god because of her beauty — beauty that was actually attained through surgery.
Profanities include p---ed, crap, d--n and what the h---.
Tally and Zane kiss a number of times. Although sex isn't mentioned, Tally seems to be sleeping at Zane's place for weeks or months at a time.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
The Pretties frequently use alcohol. Tally's friend cuts herself in an effort to gain mental clarity. Zane has Tally take calorie purge pills to think more sharply. In light of these actions, parents may wish to discuss the abuse of substances or any unnatural behaviors that can alter the mind or body.
- Does any of the technology in Tally's world seem like it could be real someday?
- When are technological breakthroughs good, and when can they be dangerous?
- Tally and Zane realize that they need more than parties and attractive bodies to enjoy life.
What do you think are some of the keys to having a fulfilled life?
Note: The first book in this series, Uglies, won the New York Public Library's "Books for the Teen Age," 2005; School Library Journal Best Books of the Year, 2005; the YALSA Best Books For Young Adults, 2006; and more.
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.