Wednesday, 27 June 2012

'Pretties' by Scott Westerfeld

The fourth book I read for the Goodreads challenge was 'Pretties' by Scott Westerfeld. This is the second book in the series, and I reviewed the first book - 'Uglies'- here. This review will contain a few spoilers from the first book, I do try to avoid spoilers but it's impossible to discuss 'Pretties' without revealing some plot points from 'Uglies'. I won't be spoiling anything from 'Pretties' though, so as long as you've read the first book, feel free to read on!

What's it about?
It is set in a world which has been destroyed by the human race, and has had to rebuild society. It is place where every one is 'ugly' until they reach the age of sixteen.  The Uglies are ordinary human faces, but when they turn sixteeen everyone undergoes a transformation into a 'Pretty'. The operation is to make everyone equal in terms of looks, and it makes everyone 'bubbly'. Once 'Pretty' the teenagers are allowed to cross the bridge and move into Pretty Town, where their only purpose it have a good time.

The novel begins after Tally has been captured by the specials and has finally been turned Pretty. She fully embraces the Pretty lifestyle - non stop parties, high-tech gadgets and becoming a Crim. Underneath all the fun and bubbly activities, she has a nagging feeling that there is something wrong. that she's forgotten something important. She then receives a message from her past that reminds her what is wrong with her Pretty life, and her she's soon fighting for her life. 

What did I think of it?
I enjoyed 'Pretties' a little less than 'Uglies' for a few reasons that I'll detail below. I found this book to be a just as addictive as the first, and read it in once sitting again. The writing style, as expected, is much like the first book, easy to read and fast paced.

This book introduces a whole new set of characters who belong to a gang called the Crims. The Crims are a group of Pretties who enjoy feeling bubbly and pursue bubble-making behaviour, usually in the form of reckless, but since its Pretty Town, perfectly safe, activities. The leader of the Crims is Zane, who is with Tally when she receives the message from her past explaining what is wrong with Pretty. They are a double act in the book, working together and helping each out in their pursuit of escaping their brain control, and leaving Pretty Town. Zane, although incredibly likeable, just didn't match up to David from the first book for me, and that took a bit of the enjoyment away but only a tiny amount. I have read plenty of reviews that prefer Zane, so it seems to divide the readers 50:50 to whether you are a David or a Zane person, but the book never tries to make it a Team Edward vs Team Jacob scenario. Both David and Zane have parts to play, and different merits, but they aren't the focus of the book. The love story isn't the important part! The main focus of this time is trying to cure the brain of the mind control chip and return to the Smokies.

I enjoyed seeing the effect the brain chip had on Tally, after knowing her in the original book as an Ugly, it was a very different Tally you meet in the second book. The focus of the Pretties is to have as much fun as possible and never worry about anything, which is a fantastic way to control a population, as they have no need to question or complain, as they live very enjoyable lives.

I found with this book that the plot wasn't quite as intriguing as the first one, since you know about the brain washing and you know the truth about the Smokies lifestyle and where they came from. This all causes the plot of the second book not have the same mystery and intrigue as the first one. I think that can often be the case with a second book as a lot of the world has been explained to the reader, but it didn't stop the book from being an enjoyable. I found that the plot of the book, although less mysterious, was still interesting and exciting. I wanted to know how Tally would clear her head and escape Special Circumstances to reunite in the wastelands with the Smokies, and that kept me turning page after page.  It was great to see the Pretty side of life, and what concerns filled a Pretty mind. The world was just as wonderful and immersive as the first book, and it was a joy to have another book in this world Westerfeld has created. I was certainly left desperate for the third book!


Goodreads Reading Challenge
This book is number 4 out of 50

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