Monday, March 03, 2008


After waiting for 2 weeks for the book to show up at the library, I finished it in 2 days. The book, Pretties, is the follow up to Scott Westerfeld's Uglies and is the second in a trilogy. Granted, it's a young adult title so the plotting and the language aren't exactly taxing stuff, but the real reason I finished it so quickly was because I became engrossed in it. This book is better than the first one. Perhaps it's because Westerfeld didn't have to lay down any background set up. He could get right to the meat of the story. And meat there is. The tale follows our main character, Tally, and her friends after they have been turned into pretties. They all have similar eyes, noses, cheek structures, and muscles. Their immune systems have been boosted so they almost never get ill. Theirs is a life of parties, drinking, and vapid social chatter. What could be better? Except that there's something else in the operation in addition to the cosmetic stuff that the city leaders do to people that makes them vapid - some to their brains and it's done without knowledge or consent.

Tally meets Zane, the leader of the clique, the Crims. Zane knows something's up beyond his good looks, but he can't suss it. Tally is the key. She turned herself in to become a pretty, but she can't remember why exactly. Her details about being part of the rebel group, the Smokies, are hazy. Together, Zane and Tally work to uncover the secret. They are aided by a member of the Smokies in their quest. Dr. Cable, who runs Special Circumstances is on to Tally and Zane and is keeping a close watch.

Westerfeld combines the adventure and mystery well. He keeps the pace of the book fast, but offers just enough time for Tally to think like a teenager. In those sections he weaves in parts of typical teen concerns, but does so in a way that the setting allows for a subtle reading of the terms. It's just very natural for Tally, Zane, and Shayna to act and think as they do. The plot of the book isn't hard to figure out, but as with many an adult book from my teen years (Heinlein in particular) the fun is in the ride to the end. Still, Westerfeld throws in a couple of curve balls. There was one section that I hit that I wondered where the hell he was going with it. In the end that section made perfect sense and it was clearly a set up for a plot line in the third book, Specials.

I've already reserved the third book. Sno-Isle libraries has 19 copies and I'm number 33 in line for one. As before, it's likely to take about 2 weeks to get a copy. I'll probably wait a week or so and then place a hold on Extras. It's a book that was published last year that takes place in the same world, but happens years after the third book in the trilogy. Like Assimov, Westerfeld couldn't just let the trilogy end. Also like Assimov, I'm very happy he didn't.

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