Tally Youngblood is about to turn sixteen, and with that, she’s about to become “pretty”. Doctors will perform an operation ridding her of any childhood scars and changing her physical appearance almost completely.
Tally can’t wait to turn pretty and join her friend Peris and her parents. She wants to party like a New Pretty. But she has a couple of months yet to wait. And in waiting, she becomes friends with Shay, who isn’t sure if she wants to become pretty and questions the ethics and morals of the pretty world. Tally is distraught when Shay runs away and she is told that if she doesn’t find her and come back then she will never be pretty.
This book was really interesting for me because it’s the second dystopian novel series that I have ever read, second to The Hunger Games. I enjoyed the premise of this novel possibly more than I actually enjoyed it.
The world that Westerfeld has created is brilliant. A world were social constructs have become the defining characteristics of life. Becoming pretty is the goal for everyone from birth until they turn sixteen. The idea that our natural bodies are simply not enough is a brilliant way of addressing real life ideas of “Pretty”. Westerfeld has taken reality and made it into fantasy and the concept of this novel is brilliant.
However, the actual plot of the novel doesn’t quite match up to the concept. Tally’s character is relatable except for her overpowering desire to want to be pretty. She emanates the average teenager who is drummed into believing that they need to improve their physical self. She does have some enviable traits though; she’s courageous and a survivor, though little can be said for her loyalty.
Her travel to the Rusty Ruins is somewhat over compensatory, though it does allow us an insight into how Tally develops as a character. This novel focuses a lot on development and self-realisation. Tally goes through a lot of trials and when she finally feels like she belongs, her own technology deceives her.
I’m looking forward to what the next novel in the series has to offer and I hope it has a bit more immediacy.