Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
Publishers: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: 29th March, 2012 (originally published 8th February, 2005)
My Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟
Tally can’t wait to turn sixteen and become pretty. Sixteen is the magic number that brings a transformation from repellent Ugly into a stunningly attractive Pretty, and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks, Tally will be there.
But Tally’s new friend, Shay, isn’t sure she wants to be Pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the Pretty world – and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn Pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.
This book! Talk about conflicting feelings.
“Your personality – the real you inside – was the price of beauty.”
For the most part, this book exceeded my expectations by a mile, and I was genuinely surprised that I was enjoying it so much. Our main characters were intriguing, and they all had unique personalities. I liked Tally and Shay, as flawed with their views as they seemingly were.
The adventure aspects were great, but my favourite part has to be the world Westerfeld set up. Sure, I’ve read books with this futuristic, dystopia feel before, but it just really worked for this novel. Something clicked, and I was swept into this world where what beauty really was had been morphed into something ugly.
Over half way into the novel, and I was loving it. But then everything went down hill at the speed of light. Okay, I’ll be honest: I saw the plot twist coming a mile off, so it wasn’t a big surprise to me when the action kicked in. And the action itself was okay – it’s the chapters after it that weren’t.
I understand that it’s hard for there not to be a lull after the action (and there sometimes even needs to be a lull, for the reader to have a break), but this is where the novel shows its flaws.
Mini Spoiler Alert: I thought this book was supposed to be about friendship, and it was up until this point. There was a small romance building up between a couple of our characters, which is absolutely fine (it seems YA books have this false view that there can’t not be romance in a book and it still be good, though I don’t think that’s what’s happening here) because it added another element for us readers to think about. But after the big action scene, this romance took a front-seat, instead of staying in the backseat where it was happy and comfortable. I feel like the romance was just a plot device to add a few extra chapters to the book, and it sort of annoyed me. End of Spoiler.
But something else that was sort of strange was that the final chapters were really confusing, and the rest of the novel hadn’t been. It’s really hard to say why without giving away any spoilers, so I’ll just go with these examples: there was talk about characters that I couldn’t remember being mentioned in the book before, and a character (who was a hostage) completely disappeared.
However, this confusion could be down to me, and not the book itself. I stopped reading it when I got to the part I didn’t like, but forced myself to power through it a few days later (and I realised the key to powering through a not-so-great section is to listen to some awesome tunes whilst reading it).
Overall, I did enjoy this novel. The actual ending itself was good, it was just the few chapters leading up to it that let it down. Up until that point, I had been really liking it. Nevertheless, it’s still a good read, so if you like dystopian novels, you should definitely read this book.