Scott Westerfeld

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

Tally Youngblood is back, but completely different. She has gone through with the plan to become Pretty, and the rebels were right, becoming Pretty has also made her severely brain damaged. She doesn't remember much about being an Ugly, and more, she doesn't care to. All that matters is partying, drinking, and making sure that her new friends like her. Her criminal past is well-known, which pretty much guarantees that every one does like her, and she is well on her way to being one of the most popular of the popular crowd.

But despite having most of her memories erased or dulled, she does remember that she likes adventure, and her group, the Crims, are starting to find ways to break through the surgery-induced fog that they live in. There are also growing numbers of Uglies out in Uglytown that have heard about the city of Smoke and the rise of the Crims, and it is suddenly much more bubbly to break the rules and fight authority... well, trick authority, anyway.

Pretties does a surprisingly good job of bringing New Pretty Town to life - what was a rather boring and stupid segment of society turns out to be more engaging than we might have expected, especially with Tally mixing things up. Thankfully, the story is not limited to New Pretty Town, and we discover a few interesting things about the Specials, the wilds around the City, and about the powers that run the City.

I was somewhat disappointed to see that Pretties adds another love interest to the story, bringing the total up to three in two books. Which is a bit much for me, and is even one more than most teenage novels bother with. Even over-the-top romances like Twilight and The Hunger Games limited themselves to two boys. However, it looks like Tally may actually be up to having a 'normal' teenage life, and while I have not yet read the third book, it looks like she is actually making real choices, and not agonizing over her multitude of boyfriends over the course of multiple books. And I have to admit, the romance is not taking over the plot to the extent that it does in certain series.

I should also add that there is another up-and-coming clique that has found a way to fight the fog caused by the operation to become Pretty; the Cutters. They do what they say - fight mundanity through pain, leaving rows of scars on their arms as badges of their commitment to their cause. They are, at this point, a minor plot point, but are likely to show up again. Self-mutilation is kind of a big deal, but the author doesn't moralize, temporize, or elaborate. It's just something that some of the brave (if a bit crazy) Pretties do. This seems a bit flippant on his part.

Overall, an excellent addition to the series. It manages to keep the pace and excitement levels set at the end of the first book, and brings to life some of the more boring and mysterious elements introduced earlier. As with Uglies, Pretties also ends with a cliff-hanger, and I suspect that I will be reviewing the next book, Specials, quite shortly.

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