Sunday, May 14, 2006

A Book For Young Gail

Last night I finished reading Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. I didn't care for it as much as I did Peeps, but I'll still be trying to pick up the next book in the series on Tuesday. I know my library has it.

My problem with Uglies gets back to the problem I'm always talking about when it comes to kid/YA lit: I'm a grown-up. Uglies is about a dystopian future society. I'm an adult who has read a lot of dystopian books and has seen a lot of dystopian movies. They tend to be similar as far as I'm concerned. Mankind foolishly brings about its own downfall and the society we know has been replaced by one that has resolved all our problems. Though it always does so in some unpleasant, creepy way. There's always some deep, dark secret. ("Soylent Green is people!")

Uglies is no different. Our "Rusty" society falls because of too much dependence on oil. We also have wrecked the environment, messing with invasive species and clearcutting the land. On top of everything else, we've made a lot of problems for ourselves with our obsession with physical appearance. Attractive people are far more successful than unattractive people.

The new order fixes that with an operation for all sixteen-year-olds that makes everyone pretty--and an awful lot alike. Before the operation you're an ugly. After the operation you're a pretty.

I have to admit that if were a teenager who hadn't already had way too much exposure to dystopian stories, I'd probably like Uglies. It's a dystopia for people my age, after all. And if I were much younger, I'd probably find the environmental stand, which I personally agree with, thought provoking instead of heavy-handed.

Even being the age I am, the book had some end of chapter surprises for me, especially toward the end. As I said, even though I'm a grown-up, I'm going to be reading Pretties, Uglies' sequel. And sooner, I hope, rather than later.

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