Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

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Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Evelyn Waugh never had bright young things like these. The horrid future city gets a second visit, which is just as good as the first.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: March 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books
ISBN: 978-1847389077

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In the unnamed city of the future, all the adults are pretty. They've had mental and physical surgery to make them calm, placid and perfectly aesthetic human beings. If they have any trouble as young adults it is the problem of what to wear at parties, or how to get rid of their hangovers when they wake up at 5pm. Unfortunately, one of these bright young things is our heroine, Tally, one of the few people in the world to have learnt how damnably horrid and sapping the life of Riley can be.

You'll have to read Uglies to learn of the copious twists and turns that precede this book, and why Tally actually volunteers for the alterations. But you'll get a lot here of exactly the same quality, as a time machine of a handwritten note starts much planning, revolutionary actions, and more trips beyond the city's influence.

The world is still perfectly realised, from architecture to hoverboards and other aerial transport. There are relationships new and old for Tally to sort through - and proper ones at that, never those tagged-on filler ones teen fiction can give us all too often. They have important things to do with the plot, and indeed every finely judged, descriptive word - whether regarding Tally's brilliantly realised personality or some pell-mell stunt scene or other - is there for an important reason.

The nastiness of the society is to the fore. The fascistic powers are being more Big Brotherish, and they appear to look even uglier than before, but in the hands of arch villain Dr Cable, they're still compelling. Beyond the whole horrid society and the way it has everyone thinking, is the personal touch directed at Tally - Cable tells her the pair are very alike, in ways that convince the reader, if not Tally as much.

That conviction might come from the book being slightly less subtle than Uglies. It says the same thing about our civilisation and its end - what leaves this post-apocalyptic dystopia - twice more, when once in book one was enough. It is very blatant in the way it makes Tally (and therefore us) want to be bubbly and not think pretty. But this overt critique of our way of life, resorting to the alleged beauty of celebrity, and the way we leave maturity, respect and admiration solely at the doors of those thought attractive, is not exactly a bad idea to convey to the eleven-or-so-year old girls who will get the most out of Tally's creation.

But once again it would be a rare person who does not get a lot out of this series, be it life lessons or sheer entertainment. The plotting is still very strong, with a looser feel to Tally's story arc, that allows it to open up at any time and drop surprises on us. It's a rare blend of strong and believable characters, put astutely into a psychologically warped society, and given more than enough to do by this fine author, that makes this definitely the equal to the previous book.

I must thank the kind people at Simon Schuster again, for my review copy.

A year full of more action will be found, starting with January (Conspiracy 365) by Gabrielle Lord.

Scott Westerfeld's Uglies Books in Chronological Order

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Buy Pretties by Scott Westerfeld at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pretties by Scott Westerfeld at


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