Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (unabridged audiobook read by Corine Montbertrand; 12.5 hrs on 11 discs): Tally is an Ugly, eagerly awaiting her 16th birthday so she can undergo “the operation” to become Pretty, which transforms her to have all the most evolutionarily desirable physical traits. Then she will move to in New Pretty Town and reunite with all her formerly Ugly friends. Until she meets Shay, who speaks of a place where no one becomes Pretty, where everyone is free to look however they look. When Shay disappears, Tally must find her or risk her worst nightmare: Ugly For Life. Obviously there’s more to this whole Pretty deal than it seems at first; of course there’s something to be said for accepting yourself as you are, but if the only change was cosmetic this wouldn’t be a dystopia story. The “hover” technology was a lot of fun from a SF point of view, but the romance was pretty unbelievable: they go from absolutely nothing to twu wuv in no time at all. It felt pretty forced; I guess you can’t have YA without some kind of relationship. Still, I really enjoyed this one. The ending was reasonably satisfying while being very clearly the start of a larger story. I’m curious to see what ends up happening to Tally and her friends.

A note on the audio version: Montbertrand was a good choice for narrator. Though her voice for Shay was pretty annoying, it was also absolutely perfect for the character. I was especially impressed with the subtle shifts in intonation for the same character before and after their Pretty operation. I look forward to hearing her interpretations of other books, most especially the rest of this series.

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