Pretties (Book 2 in the Uglies series)

“Everyone in the world was programmed by the place they were born, hemmed in by their beliefs, but you had to at least try to grow your own brain.”- Scott Westerfeld (Pretties)

Pretties is book 2 of the Uglies series written by Scott Westerfeld.  (Find out more about Uglies through my blogpost here.)

I found this book entertaining although not terrible emotionally or intellectually dense.  However, it’s a fun read and is a great story  full of creative ideas about what a dystopian society might look like.  It’s a young adult book and something that I think teenagers who are into sci-fi (and adults who love YA or teen sci-fi!) would be really into.

Pretties start out with Tally Youngblood, our heroine from the Uglies, having had the operation to turn “pretty” and now living in Prettytown.  It seems she has no memory of her life before the operation and the new pretty Tally isn’t concerned about her friend Shay, whom she decided to become Pretty in order to save.  She also doesn’t seem concerned about or even able to remember clearly her time in the Smoke and her friends there.  This is because the operation to turn Pretty also causes brain lesions which makes Pretties sort of vapid and easy to control.  As a result, Tally’s main concerns now seem to be partying, breaking into a new clique, (the Crims),  and deciding what to wear to the next party and how to cure her hangover.

When out at a party one night, some of Tally’s friends from the Smoke come and deliver a package to her which contains two pills.  The pills are supposed to make her permanently “bubbly” (the Pretties word for aware and excited; the opposite of the Pretties normal state of feeling sort of dreamlike and not caring about much).  Rather than taking both the pills herself, she decides to give one to her new love interest Zane.  They start feeling “bubbly” all the time and come up with various schemes to stay bubbly such as kissing, pulling stunts, and not eating much food and drinking lots of coffee.  However, the pill has given Zane terrible headaches and they decide they need help from Tally’s old friend David’s mom, Maddy.  They also realize that they are dissatisfied with life in Prettytown because they are not allowed to choose to stay bubbly but are instead under some sort of government control because of the Pretty operation which causes the brain lesions (of which most Pretties are unaware).  So Zane and Tally and various members of their clique, called the “Crims” decide to go find the rest of Tally’s friends who have escaped the cities, called the New Smokies.

In their escape from the city, Tally gets separated from her other Crim friends, including Zane.  She also breaks her hoverboard and is forced to travel toward the New Smokies on foot.   During her journey, she encounters a group of people living very primitively as a tribe of hunter gatherers. Because of her looks, the people assume she is a god and in fact only one of the tribe can even speak her language, a holy man who knows the language of the gods.  She discovers that this little tribe is always at war with other tribes in the area and is an experiment that has been set up by the Specials in order to study violence, human development, and the effect of the brain lesions on people.    With help from the holy man, Tally makes it to “The End of the World,” a 7 day walk where she then runs into an electrified area seemingly set up by the Specials.  As she cannot make it past this area, she goes back to the camp of tribal people and then decides to wait until the Specials come for their next visit to check on the little colony.  When they come back, she ends up stealing one of their hovercars and taking it to the tall tower where she meets up with the New Smoke and all of her Crim friends who are waiting.

She and David, her love interest from Uglies have an awkward reunion.  She still has some feelings for him, but is also in love with Zane.  When she arrives at the tower, she finds out that Zane has become incredibly ill.  I won’t spoil the ending but it basically leads to why the next book is called Specials…

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