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Looking for a fast-moving, action packed read for a middle school or high school student? Scott Westerfeld's young adult novel Uglies offers strong female main characters who are on the cusp of adulthood in their world. In the beginning, the "ugly" girls, Tally and Shay, are about to turn 16 and are awaiting their "pretty" surgeries.
Uglies vs. Pretties
The "uglies" live in dormitories, while the "pretties" live in mansions on the other side of the river. Most uglies dream of being pretty and moving to New Pretty Town. In New Pretty Town, everyone has a perfectly sculpted body and is zit free. The "pretties" spend their days planning their outfits for the great parties at night.
Tally and Shay are best gal pals and love to take risks. Until their surgery, the girls slip off their interface rings to go on adventures. One cool way to travel in this world is by hoverboard, and crash bracelets keep the danger to a minimum. Sometimes the girls crash pretty parties, and sometimes they escape to the Rusty area, which is the remains of a civilization that sounds eerily like our own. When out in the Rusty, the girls are searching for David, who is part of a group of rebels who live at the The Smoke.
Shay eventually leaves for The Smoke, and Tally is sought by Dr. Cable to bring Tally back and to spy on the rebels. Tally makes it to The Smoke after an incredible adventure only to fall for David, who Shay likes as well. She lives in conflict as she likes the ways of The Smoke but also wants to be pretty. Tally accidentally sets off her spy equipment and brings Dr. Cable and her Specials to The Smoke. The ending is a cliff hanger and most will want to continue the series and read Pretties.
Not only does Westerfeld offer interesting main characters, there are great topics to discuss with the students. Some examples are as follows: dystopia, relationships, teen friendship, conforming, technologies of the future, and reliance on oil. This 448 page read will definitely offer students something to discuss.
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld: Young Adult Book Review
The novels in this series are ones that upper middle school students tell me that they enjoy. There is a mix of fantasy and action novels in this series. I teach grades 6-8 at a middle school in the midwest.