Tag Archives: 3*

Just Finished…Uglies by Scott Westerfield

Uglies

Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that?

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license – for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all.

The choice Tally makes changes her world forever…

Uglies, Cover

This was a well-written book, but I have to say I just really didn’t buy into the concept, story and characters as much as I thought I would. It felt like some things happened, just because they HAD to… I found it difficult to get beyond a superficial reading, just as I found the first half of the book (the ‘pretty’ focused part) superficial. Tally wasn’t my favourite choice as a heroine: she was fickle, easily persuaded, but then chose to be stubborn at the most ridiculous moments… I know ‘uglies’ were meant to have been coddled in their city life, but it felt very unrealistic to me. In general, I felt Shay was more committed and questioning than Tally. In a couple of scenes, I did really believe in Tally, particularly the one where she sits in front of the mirror examining the detail and imperfections of her face – that felt very ‘real’ and is something I imagine all teenage girls do at some point, criticising the reflection that stares back at them. But, for me it was one of the only scenes we saw any depth to Tally’s character. Beyond this, she was just a name to me, faceless rather than ugly.

The dystopian world around Uglyville and New Pretty Town (yes, those are names of places…) the former world of the Rusties, was more realistic for me and there were interesting elements: the parasite in oil that destroyed the old world; the desertification of huge areas, through GM crop mistakes; the Smoke was also reasonable for a survivalist camp. I enjoyed the second part of the book much more than the first and some of the characters introduced (such as David and his parents) we’re good.

Some things jarred in the narration for me: a description of Tally feeling like she was graduating from riding a tricycle to a motorbike… In a world that didn’t have motorbikes – how could that feeling being attributed to her character? The language of their world became hard going at times, everything pretty or ugly… And every name of a group: Smokies, Pretties, Uglies, Rusties… I would have appreciated some more variety.

Overall, it is a quick read and written well-enough to keep the story going. It just wasn’t realistic enough a world for me for a dystopian. If they wanted pliable citizens, why do they give the Uglies so much freedom? Why do Pretty Rangers help Smokies? Why do they allow law breakers back into their system, but are ruthless with the Smokies? It’s possible that all these questions might be answered in book 2, but as I already know that is set firmly in Pretty Town, I’m not sure I can face it… It’s what the future looks like if we all turn into the cast of TOWIE – so maybe it IS a dystopian nightmare 🙂

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Just Finished…The Goddess Test

The Goddess Test…Overall grade C+ “Must try harder”

I didn’t get a great feeling about The Goddess Test: within the first couple of chapters I realised I wasn’t overly fussed with our heroine Kate, which for a book told in the first person, from her perspective didn’t bode well. It’s not an awful book, there’s just not a lot happens tbh.

Normally I try to avoid spoilers in a review, but I think I may veer in that direction, so you have been warned 🙂

The premise of the book sounded good: dying mother (their relationship was nicely – if briefly – done) and mysterious chap who turns out to be Hades. But in the early scenes Kate lost me: after seeing the apparent miracle of seeing someone brought back to life, she just toddled off – not seeming to contemplate in any kind of depth what had actually happened – who would do that?

Kate had some strong shades of Bella Swan about her in my reading: lots of ‘selfless’ actions which weren’t especially well thought through. Having done Twilight already, I didn’t need a repeat of the character. And I felt that most of the characters were quite flat in all honesty.

As the book got going, I expected something to happen, but unfortunately it just didn’t. Not wanting to spoil too much, but for a book called The Goddess Test and based on the idea a girl being tested to achieve immortality and a seat with the Olympians, you expected there to maybe be a test or two, but there is nothing overt. There is very little action in the book – it felt like a rather long ‘scene setting’ piece from Harry Potter in the early years (you know when they eat lots of food, play some fun Quidditch and get Christmas presents).

Perhaps I just expected more from a myth based book with tests and tasks in the style of Perseus or Jason…as I recall Perseus’s task of bringing a suitable gift didn’t mean bobbing down to John Lewis for a nicely wrapped piece of porcelain, nor did Jason’s quest for The Golden Fleece lead him to the pub in the high street. I can understand the author’s rationale behind the ‘tests’ undertaken in the book – that would fit with the role Kate was hoping to perform in terms of judging people – however, I feel this would have been done much better if the secret tests were matched with some genuinely (or even mildly) epic tasks as well. As it is, I thought it was mainly fluff about fairly flat characters.

Overall Verdict: 3* Some romantics may like it; expect most people with any interest in classical mythology will find it lacking. Don’t expect adventure, tests or Goddess-like behaviour on the whole.