Scott Westerfeld

This is third book in the The Uglies series; if you haven't read the first books, Uglies and Pretties, be warned, this review contains massive spoilers, and moreover, wont make much sense.

When we left Tally at the end of Pretties, she had been attacked by her former best friend, Shay, and injected with a tonic to turn her into a superhuman but vicious super-cop. Specials picks up shortly thereafter, with Tally once again brainwashed, this time as a member of the super-cool Cutters, augmented to have unbreakable bones, super-fast reflexes, stronger muscles, heightened senses... the list goes on, from improved digestion to antennas implanted into their skin. After struggling for months to have a clear head, finally Tally has her old reactions and clear-headedness back, and then some. There is one twist - the Cutters have the social order of a wolf pack, and Shay is the alpha wolf. Tally can think for herself, but when Shay gives her an order, she doesn't even think about disobeying.

They are working to keep the rebels from New Smoke and the ever-more-popular Crims from corrupting more of the city - the anti-Pretty pills are becoming more common, and the Smokies seem to have found a source of military-grade technology, making them serious competition for the Special Circumstances. As this book was originally the completion of the series, the overall plot is somewhat predictable; however, in order to avoid spoilers, I will simply say that all of the major characters appear in this book, including Andrew Simpson Smith, David, Zane, Paris, and of course, Dr. Cable.

This book is a satisfying conclusion to the series, and maintains the excitement and character development of the earlier novels. I found it slightly disappointing that Tally has slipped into the role of a follower for most of this book, and spends a lot of time being pushed around. The constant struggle to escape the mind control of the City is starting to get a little bit old, but there is enough excitement to make up for a bit of repetition of certain themes. In short, if you have read and enjoyed the other books, you will certainly want to read this one.

As expected this book contains a lot of the Cutters, and this means a lot of wrist-slicing. This has surprisingly not been the source of much controversy; perhaps because it is clearly a symbol of the oppression of the Cutters, and something that Tally works to overcome.

Specials is the last book in the original trilogy, although there has since been one more book released, Extras; this book does not center around Tally Youngblood, but she does play a major role later in it.