Extras by Scott Westerfeld (unabridged audiobook read by Corine Montbertrand; 11 hrs 45 min on 10 CDs): I almost didn’t read this book at all. I was so upset at the end of Specials that I figured I might as well just give up on the series, since Extras was supposed to be just sort of an additional story rather than a continuation. But a friend of mine convinced me to give it a try and I am so glad I did. While the first three Uglies books took place somewhere on the west coast of what used to be the United States, for this book we have been transported to Japan. It’s been a few years since Tally’s adventures and the Mind Rain (the removal of the lesions causing people to be Pretty-heads) has caused the world to go a little bit crazy. In Japan, Aya lives in a world of face rank – measures to fame compared to the other people in her city. They live in a reputation economy, where relative fame means more credit to purchase items. Aya is a kicker – what we’d call a vlogger – and in order to become famous she goes undercover with a secret clique of fame-shunning maglev-surfing girls. When she unwittingly stumbles upon the biggest story in the world, she attracts a whole lot of unwanted attention.
This isn’t just another story taking place in the same universe as the rest of the series: it actually is connected. Loose ends are tied up and I felt extremely satisfied by the end – and getting there was a hell of a lot of fun as well. Radical Honesty – the physical inability to lie or even hold back the truth – was an interesting plot device that ended up being more funny than contrived. I loved all the new characters and while I guessed at the truth behind the mystery pretty early on, I still enjoyed watching them figure it out. And, of course, the appearance of some of my beloved characters from the previous books was much appreciated. Definitely a worthy finale to the series.
A note on the audio: Despite my dislike of Monterbrand’s stoned-sounding male character voices, I was impressed at how well I was able to distinguish between each of them here. Hiro was especially entertaining.