Tag Archives: uglies

Uglies: Shay’s Story by Scott Westerfeld, Devin Grayson, and Steven Cummings

Uglies: Shay’s Story by Scott Westerfeld, Devin Grayson, and Steven Cummings: This is the graphic novel of Uglies from Shay’s point of view. It’s something you probably don’t want to read until you’ve finished the series, but I suppose it technically doesn’t spoil the other books. The story itself is fine. They don’t dwell too much on the parts you see from Tally’s point of view, so it is mostly fresh material. My issue with it was the art. Everyone looks the same. I get that the Uglies aren’t supposed to actually be ugly, but they look identical to the Pretties, the Specials, the Smokies, everybody. You don’t even get much change pre- and post-surgery for the same characters. I get that it’s difficult to include the sort of subtle details described in the book, but it got to the point where the Ugly nicknames didn’t even make any sense. I like the idea of a graphic adaptation of Westerfeld’s work, but this just didn’t work out very well.

Extras by Scott Westerfeld

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.

Specials by Scott Westerfeld

Specials by Scott Westerfeld (unabridged audiobook read by Corine Montbertrand; 11 hrs on 9 CDs): Though the title really should have prepared me for this installment of the Uglies series, I spent much of this novel in a state of anxiety because I really hated Tally and I didn’t want to hate Tally. Alas, that lasted until the part when I cried, then I spent the rest of the book feeling pretty despondent. On the bright side, Shay is back in my good graces and All Is Not Lost, but I sure hope Extras cheers me up a little bit.

A note on the audio: Montbertrand shines as always. I am sure her narration played a part in my unhappiness, since I clearly care about these characters.

Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

Pretties by Scott Westerfeld (unabridged audiobook read by Corine Montbertrand; 11 hrs 15 min on 10 CDs): I am so glad I had the next book in the series in hand when I finished this one, since it ends on a “Tally noooooooo” cliffhanger. But up until then, I really enjoyed it. The romance aspect was handled much better, though it probably didn’t hurt that I totally fell in love with Zane. I got pretty tired of Shay, but luckily she wasn’t as prominent a figure here as in Uglies. Mostly I just really enjoyed returning to this world with its strange rules and fascinating technology. The introduction of Andrew Simpson Smith opened up a whole new layer of interesting subplots to this world, and was one more reason I was so glad not to have to wait between books. I was amused by how all the Pretties talked like Joss Whedon characters. I have to admit I’d totally be a Pretty. I like to think that I’d be all brave and independent like Tally and Zane, but the truth is I’d be perfectly content being vain and lazy like the rest of the Pretties. I’ll hold off on judging the whole series until I’ve finished it, but I definitely liked this installment.

A note on the audio: I’ve been consistently impressed with Montbertrand’s ability to create voices that manage to change between transition from Ugly to Pretty while still keeping the character’s voice distinct. I will say that I really hate Shay’s and Dr. Cable’s voices, but that’s actually a compliment because I also think they’re absolutely perfect for those characters. My only real complaint is that all of Montbertrand’s male characters sound bored or stoned. But oh well.

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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