In a world filled with breathtaking beauty, what is there for a normal person?

Set several hundread years after a major shift in life as we know it, the world hides from nature in large cities segregated into two major factions.  Uglies and Pretties, the names speak for themselves. 

Around the time of puberty, children set off for Uglyville to continue their education as well as await the blessed day they turn 16.  No longer does this bring coming of age things we know like driving or dating.  At sixteen you get initiated into the Pretties, leaving your ugly self behind forever.

A series of operations intended to not only make you beautiful, but to also bring everyone into the visual norm.  No differences to set people apart means no differences to make people feel superior or inferior to others.

The society at large seems pampered in their lifestyle.  Uglies have their needs met, Pretties give the appearance of vapid lives of ease.

However pretty the world seems from the outside, though, there is an ugliness hidden just below the surface. 

Follow the story of Tally, an Ugly anxiously awaiting her sixteenth birthday so she can join the ranks of the Pretties in New Pretty Town.  Her friend runs away, spurning the usual desired Pretty lifestyle.  Tally, given an ultamatium, sets off to find her friend lest she suffer the worst punishment the society could inflict… left ugly forever.

The first in a series of novels for young adults, this sets the way we look at things on its head.  Causes one to reflect on the way we treat the world around us, our own dependence on technology, the way society views one another, and the lengths people will go to maintain the status quo.

The author channels George Orwell and Ray Bradbury in a Judy Blume-esque book quite well.  You take aspects from a Twilight Zone episode and mix in a little 1984 and just about any Bradbury book I can think of and you get yourself Uglies.  Best of all, the social commentary follows a vein that not only speaks to youth in a way they relate, it also takes on the question of beauty which is so hot right now. 

Shows like What Not To Wear and Extreme Makeover combined with America's Next Top Model along with websites like Hot or Not glorify the shallowness of a person's physical beauty.  I once heard a quote, "Be your own kind of beautiful", that goes against the grain of modern society.  In the society created within the pages of Uglies, the last thing desirable is a person to find their own inner beauty or uniqueness.

Engaging and quick to read, the story grips at your heart.  Especially good for teens suffering through the pains of adolescence where so much of the world around them focuses on Uglies and Pretties, I highly recommend this book to all.

–Lady O

Originally posted on ladyozma.vox.com

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