I rarely trust recommendations for reading from most of my friends because my tastes and theirs tend to not match up well. That’s not to say there haven’t been the occasional hits, but mostly it doesn’t work well. There have been exceptions: Paul used to do pretty well in matching my tastes and Jose has had some good hits too.
Anyway, when a friend recommended a trilogy by Scott Westerfield, I was highly sceptical. I read the reviews online and at Amazon and I decided to give it a try despite the fact it didn’t quite seem something I’d be into. He was really enthusiastic about it, though, so I thought I’d give it a try even though last time someone did that (Christian said she loved Little Big and hasn’t ever forgiven me for saying it was a horribly written tome of little interest. She made me send her back my copy. Just because a book is popular, doesn’t mean it’s good. If someone doesn’t share your tastes, taking it personally is out of line, IMHO.)
So I brought all three with me to London. I ended up not reading on the way over because I had so many magazines in my backlog. But on the way back, I completed the first book and the second book save for one chapter, which I just cleaned up today.
So, the book is well written. That’s helps. I can’t get past that part if it’s not. So I got into the story pretty quickly, which surprised me. It’s not really my “type” of book but lately I’ve been finding lots of those that I still like. I like this series so far. The first is Uglies, the second is Pretties, and the third (Specials) I haven’t yet got to but will in the next few days.
It’s the story of Tally, an “Ugly” who is about to become a “Pretty” and realizes maybe that’s not where she should be. An ugly is someone who isn’t yet 16. At 16 you are surgically altered to be perfect and then move to a new part of the city to be with all the beautiful people. You also become a vapid, mindless drone.
Tally escapes Uglyville into the Smoke — where the outlaws are — but she turns traitor before realizing she shouldn’t have. She tries to make it up, but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Her friend Shay ultimately turns against her. Then Tally turns away from David, falling in with Zane. My complaints are twofold: one there needs to be more time spent developing the characters. I like well-developed characters. The second, more substantial is I just don’t like Tally. She’s a great lead character but the way she can just discard people goes against what I believe is right. And the author clearly is trying to say it’s okay. It’s not okay. She loved David and then when she became a Pretty and got involved with Zane, it was like David didn’t exist. She didn’t handle it well and she’s supposed to be mature. But I did like the books. I may amend this review when I read the third book.
UPDATE 1-9-09 As promised the third book addition: I liked the third book. There’s a bit more action and it held my interest a bit more. Tally is still a self-centred twat right until the end, yet she’s still likeable in her own little way. David’s back and I still really like him. Doctor Cable is just a great character and I wish there was so much more of her. That’s an issue with all of the books: the four GREAT characters: David, Tally, Zane, and Cable there’s not nearly enough of. We need more character development, more details, just more. The books are a quick read, but they’d be better if they weren’t. I feel like the characters blew through my life and I hardly knew them. Except I wanted to know them. But it’s still enjoyable but in a superficial way.