Uglies by Scott Westerfield Book Review


Hannah Sweet holding a copy of Uglies by Scott Westerfield.

Imagine someone living in a world where they are raised to believe they are ugly. And they continue to believe it until they turn 16—in which they then go through an operation to become ‘pretty’.

Tally Youngblood does.

Ever since Tally could remember, she had been raised to think that everyone who didn’t have the operation was ugly. Becoming pretty was all Tally could think about: she would pinpoint flaws to every ‘ugly’ she looked at, and she’d stare out her window at New Pretty Town—a place where all Pretties live and have fun.

While Tally anxiously awaits for her 16th birthday, she meets a girl called Shay. As their friendship grows, the way Shay acts and talks shows that she does not want to turn pretty. And soon Shay decides to run away to a place called The Smoke—a place where Uglies, that don’t want to become pretties, go. When Tally refuses to join her, Shay gives her instructions, that only Tally could understand, to The Smoke, in case she decided to go after she left.

On the day of Tally’s 16th birthday, she expects to have her operation which is something she has been waiting for all of her life. But instead of being able to have her procedure, authorities bring her to a secluded place and give her two options: she can either reveal the Smoke’s location or never turn pretty.


As I was reading, I was engulfed in the world of Uglies. The way the author wrote about the Pretties captivated me and his writing made me want what Tally wanted. He literally put me in Tally’s shoes and morphed our brains together. (Figuratively speaking, of course.)

When Tally first meets Shay in the novel, I never understood why Shay was so resistant to become pretty. I mean, everyone wants perfection, right?  But later in the novel, I soon understand why. It became clear to me that maybe the perfect world of Pretties is not so perfect at all.

Throughout the book, there were many surprising twists and turns, and the way Tally reacted to everything was fascinating. The only aspect that bothered me about the book was that I thought that every problem or situation Tally got into, she easily evaded it and it did not seem hard for her at all.

For example, there were parts in the book where she broke into very secure places. Normally, that would be extremely difficult, but Tally could easily open an elevator shaft or hovercraft landing and get into the attached building very quickly, without too much trouble. There was also a spot in the novel when she was trying to decipher Shay’s instructions. Some of them were very hard for her to contemplate, but as time went on, she easily found out what it meant.

Also, the writing seemed a little bland at some points in the book. Like at the beginning, when Tally was sneaking out her window, when she had to eat Spagbol (a dehydrated food), in between scenes of action, or when she was trying to survive on her own.

That aside, overall, I liked the book and I absolutely loved its message; a message that tells people that true beauty is on the inside, that it is not your looks that make you beautiful.

“Or maybe when they do the operation-when they grind and stretch your bones to the right shape, peel off your face and rub all your skin away, and stick in plastic cheekbones so you look like everyone else-maybe after going through all that you just aren’t very interesting anymore.” (Scott Westerfield, Uglies)