Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld, was the May book for the Barnes & Noble ladies book club. It’s a dystopian teen novel set in a future time where everyone undergoes surgery at age 16 to become pretty. The surgery is cosmetic, but it seems to effect the emotional and mental views of each person as well.
Many ladies in the book club enjoyed this story, which deals heavily–and a bit too heavy-handedly, in my opinion–with the issues of self-image and environmental economy. Fifteen-year-old Tally, the protagonist, travels to the Rusty Ruins, a dinosaur field of sorts from the time when humans relied on dirty fuel-burning transportation and stayed ugly their entire lives. In the end, Tally’s eyes are opened to the realities of the pretty surgeries and she must make a choice.
The plot was compelling, but I didn’t find myself identifying with the self-image issues the uglies feel. Oh, I have self-image issues, but their “solution” (1) isn’t possible for me (unless I want to look like poor Jocelyn Wildenstein) and (2) it isn’t really a solution. I am pretty sure that Westerfeld isn’t actually condoning pretty surgeries, but without reading the rest of the series, readers cannot be sure what he is actually condoning. I support magic Shallow Hal glasses or something.