Pretties and Specials (number 2 and 3 in Uglies trilogy)
There is always a danger in reading a whole series in a few days, there is not that fresh excitement or anticipation that occurs when you are waiting for a publisher/author to release the next in the series and characters/events can get somewhat predictable. The bonus, however, is that you are in the flow of the author’s style and you remember what has come before. So whilst I did get a little irritated by some aspects of the next two books in the Uglies trilogy, I found them sufficiently captivating to want to keep reading. I particularly like the references to our “Rustie” world such as this one
“Left alone, human beings are a plague. They multiply relentlessly, consuming every resource, destroying everything they touch. Without the operation, human beings always become Rusties”
Pretties p. 135.
Pretties continues the story of Tally, her friend Shay and introduces a free thinking new Pretty (Tally’s love interest) called Zane. Specials takes the story in another direction where Tally despite being physically perfect becomes more easily lead and faces the consequences for her actions. The ending is satisfying but open enough for more to be written if needed. Whilst this was meant to be a trilogy there is a fourth book – Extras.
There is one aspect of Pretties and Specials that is somewhat worrying and this concerns the methods the characters use to stop the “bubble headedness” of being pretty. This includes risky activities, going hungry (no big deal) and the problematic self-harming/cutting oneself in order to gain clarity. Self-harmers are referred to in Pretties as ‘Cutters’ and in Specials are given an important “Special” role in the system of control. Whilst like most controversial aspects of books, it makes sense in context (it is meant to reflect the characters low self- esteem and desire for control) and the characters stop self-harming as the story is resolved. However, I wonder if there is some other way this seeking of clear thinking (in a world of duplicity) and the author’s comment on problems that teens and young adults face nowadays (eating disorders, self- harming and body image) could have been presented. A Google of Westerfeld+Pretties+ Self harm results a quite a few condemnations of its inclusion.
So whilst I would highly recommend Uglies, I would choose my target audience carefully for Pretties and Specials.