Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

Book Info
Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
© 2006 Scholastic, New York, NY
ISBN 978-0439891615

Plot Summary
Pretties is the second book in Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies trilogy. Tally Youngblood has finally undergone the surgery that changes her from an ugly to a stunningly beautiful pretty whose life is easy and fun. Pretties enjoy a life of luxury with daily parties and nearly anything they could ask for at the push of a button. Tally is peacefully ignorant (a condition referred to as pretty-minded) of her former life as an ugly and her relationship with the Smoke, a rebel group that disagrees with the pretty surgery and lives off the grid, until one day when she receives and interesting letter from her former ugly self. Tally remembers that being pretty might not be what it seems and that her reason for undergoing the surgery was to test out a cure that had been developed by doctors from the Smoke to remove the surgery’s effects on the brain. Tally and her pretty boyfriend Zane decide to take the pills together, but can they overcome their pretty minds and defeat the evil government group special circumstances?

Reader’s Annotation
In the second installment of the Uglies trilogy, Tally Youngblood is finally a pretty, but is it really everything it’s cracked up to be? Follow Tally and her pretty boyfriend Zane as they struggle to find out and make things right.

Critical Evaluation
As the second installment of the Uglies series, Pretties picks up right where the first book left off, and as a continuation it deals with the same issues of perceived beauty. I believe Westerfeld intended it to be so, but the pretties are all rather annoying in their vapid existence, and while Tally and her group of friends known as the Crims seem to be somewhat skeptical of their prettiness to begin with, Tally seems to revert back to her ugly mind a little too easily. I enjoyed the first book and still enjoyed reading this one as well, but I found myself to be content to stop here and not finish off the trilogy. I felt I was able to get enough of a grasp on the trilogy to be able to be knowledgeable about it if/when I need to discuss it with patrons or colleagues.

Information about the Author
Westerfeld was born on May 5, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, but as a child, moved to Callifornia and Connecticut for his father, Lloyd’s, job. His mother, Pamela and two older sisters, Wendy and Jackie, rounded out the Westefeld family. It must have been an exciting time, growing up with a father who traveled to new towns to work on the newest types of technology. He had the opportunity to see his dad working with the Apollo missions in Houston, on Boeing planes in California, and on submarines in Connecticut.

Though Westerfeld seemed to live a fairly normal (though not necessarily ordinary) childhood, he received a very prestigious education. He graduated from Arts Magnet High School in Dallas. He then went on to get his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy at Vassar (located in Poughkeepsie, New York) in 1985. WIthout a break, Westefeld went right into his graduate work in Performance Studies at New York University. Throughout his life he has held a number of jobs, ranging from ghost writer, to textbook editor, substitute teacher, factory worker and software designer.

Visit the author’s website.

Genre
Science Fiction

Curriculum Ties
Sociology

Booktalking Ideas
Tally’s group of friends simply pull pranks and participate in other dangerous situations in order to feel bubble, but Shay takes things a step further and actually starts physically hurting herself. Is this taking things too far?

What do you think of Shay’s decision to become a Special? Is there anything Tally could have done to prevent this from happening?

Reading Level/ Interest Age
12+

Challenge Issues

  • Reckless behavior and teenage drinking.
  • Self mutilation in order to attain a sort of “high” feeling.

Defense options

  • Be aware of your library’s collection development policy.
  • Be familiar with the material in question, and the context of the questionable content.
  • Assert the principles of the ALA Library Bill of Rights, and standards of intellectual freedom.
  • Consult online book reviews, and others who have read the book.
    • Understand the context of the reckless behavior of the pretties, and what it is supposed to represent.
    • The self mutilation is an attempt by Shay and her friends to feel normal, and escape being pretty-minded – a plague borne on them by the government.

Why Included?
The Uglies series was highly recommended to me by friends, teenage library patrons and colleagues. While there were aspects of the books that I found to be annoying, I thoroughly enjoyed the overall concept and world created in them.

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