May 10, 2011

Books for Lolitas: Uglies

For a while I've been going through fairy tale stories, a genre I enjoy more than just a little bit. But it isn't the only good one out there. Between this and a slightly insane scheduel right now I thought perhaps it would be a good time to look at them. So we'll be switching gears and going for different sorts of books for a while.

 Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Uglies is an interesting read. It's an obvious message against things like plastic surgery and in general the over valuing of the physical over mental ability and personality. There are other commentaries in there, of course, but they aren't nearly so obvious. I don't normally read many books that wear their messages on their sleeve - or their title as the case may be. Not because I disapprove of books having messages. Indeed, it's hard to find a book without a message and if you manage it it won't be much of a book. Even Green Eggs and Ham has messages. It's the point of story telling. But I really do like pulling a personal meaning from the text myself rather than having it thrown at me.

But even with the moral of the story being a bit in your face, I have to say that this is a very deep and well developed story. The world is layered, going so far as to have a unique speech pattern (think Buffy verse teen-speak) and unique society structure. To top it off, each character has a unique way of looking at the world that enhances the reader's view of things and changes frequently depending on where they are in life.

The one thing that stuck out at me was the relationship between two of the main characters in the story: Tally and Shay. And, no, it wasn't any sort of romantic relationship. Though I have no doubt that the pairing exists in a fanverse somewhere. These two meet after Tally's best friend becomes a Pretty and Tally must wait until her birthday to join the world he's now a part of. Shay and Tally are at the same time best friends and arch enemies, and it never seems to be their choice as to which they are at any given time. I have to say I love this idea of individuals so intertwined that they can't help but be one or the other. And it's an interesting dynamic to watch unfold and far outshines the romances of the series.

The one fault I can find beyond the aggressive moral is the way the characters thought patterns change so drastically between one book and the next so that each book seems to revolve around an entirely different Tally. It's a part of the story and done intentionally, but I've known several people who were a bit disturbed by it. Perhaps that's the point, but none the less.It is an excellent series and I wouldn't see this as a reason to overlook it, but it's perhaps a fact to keep in mind.

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