Friday, 1 October 2010

What is the real price of beauty?

Scott Westerfeld’s novel Uglies explores this dilemma in a futuristic setting with a disturbing commentary on our current notion of beauty and lifestyle. In a polarized, post-apocalyptic world, Tally Youngblood is about to turn 16 and be transformed from an Ugly, via compulsory cosmetic surgery, into a Pretty. People are conditioned from birth that they are ugly, as such, they long for the operation that will allow them to move across the river into the luxurious mansions in New Pretty Town, where life is one long party and everyone is captivatingly gorgeous.

It's a shock to Tally to then find that her friend Shay doesn't want to be pretty, and doesn't think she's ugly now. Shay runs away to the secretive city know as The Smoke where her friend David awaits, leaving Tally a set of cryptic directions in case she decides to follow. Tally can’t wait to be a Pretty and declines. The government then connects Tally to the Smokies and blackmails her into finding Shay - if she doesn't, she will stay Ugly forever…

Reminiscent of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the government controls the population and the book shows the protagonist’s struggle with it. I really enjoyed Uglies - there are three more in the series (Pretties, Specials and Extras) plus a movie in production, rumored to be released sometime next year (2011).

Rachel @ Doveton Library


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