“The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit.”
How can you not be impressed with a first line like that? Irreverent, yet deliciously descriptive at the same time, it gets Uglies by Scott Westerfeld off to a bang-up start. And the book doesn’t stop there. It manages to be an adventure, coming-of-age, social commentary, and all-around good read. There is something for every reader here!
Tally Youngblood is about to turn sixteen, a day she has been looking forward to for most of her life. In the not-so-distant future every receives plastic surgery at sixteen, so that all adults in the world are incredibly beautiful. Tally, pre-surgery, is sick and tired of being an Ugly. But then her new friend Shay starts talking about running away, saying that she doesn’t want the surgery. Tally thinks Shay is crazy, but is soon caught up in circumstances beyond her control. While posing as a spy in a renegade community, Tally starts to question the values she has grown up with her entire life. What does it mean to be pretty? And in the long run, is being pretty the most important factor in life?
The description sounds preachy, but the book certainly is not. Filled with hair-raising adventure, hoverboard chases, and mischief galore, the book flies past quickly, hardly allowing us to catch our breath as we hurdle from one mishap to the next.
Other Books by This Author:
Pretties, Specials, Extras (all part of the Uglies series), The Midnighters trilogy, So Yesterday, Peeps
You’ve probably heard of survival of the fittest and the theory that “might makes right”. Now think about how these concepts would play out, not in the animal world, or even the social hierarchy, but with entire cities, put on wheels and capable of moving from place to place at the whim of their citizens – and equally capable of “eating” other cities. Mortal Engines the first in the Hungry City Chronicles by English author Phillip Reeve, imagines just such a world. Tom, a fifteen-year-old Apprentice Historian lives in – or rather on– London in a future world where the cities are in a constant battle for resources as they roll along. When a mysterious and disfigured girl attempts to murder his hero, he is pushed off of the city, landing, to his horror, on the ground. Tom’s desperate attempts to catch up with his beloved city lead him to unlikely alliances and give him a new perspective on both “Municipal Darwinism” and the men he has regarded as heroes for his entire life.
The worldbuilding in this science fiction novel is fantastic. It is easy to immerse oneself in the world of moving cities, flying airships, and warring factions between both the moving cities and the Anti-Traction League and between the cities themselves. The characters are three-dimensional, making choices both good and bad, and feeling the repercussions of their actions in ways both predictable and entirely unexpected.
I would recommend this book to fans of science fiction, steampunk, Kenneth Oppel’s Airborn series.