Sunday 12 June 2011

Pretties, Scott Westerfeld

Due to both library copies being missing, I had a long gap between reading Uglies and its sequel Pretties. I ended up finally getting to read Pretties when I found the series on my friend's bookshelves. It took me quite a while to get back into this setting: a garish, dystopian Back To The Future Part 2 sort of world (compete with hoverboards.) On the surface New Pretty Town seemed rather crude and childish, but beneath it all is a dark threat. Tally Youngblood discovered the truth about her society back in Uglies, but has since undergone an operation to remove all her natural imperfections to fulfil the ideal of Pretty, and in the process, her mind has been altered. So in a way, it was an advantage to come back to the series having forgotten much of the story so far, because it put me in the same position as Tally, seeing the world anew.

Another obstacle to really enjoying this book was the prevalence of irritating Pretty slang which seemed to be a cross between Evelyn Waugh's Bright Young Things (Vile Bodies or Stephen Fry's film adapation: Bright Young Things) and Bill and Ted. Everything is either "bubbly" or "bogus," or "[adjective]-making." Perhaps the Bright Young Things comparison is not as strange as it may seem, as the new Pretties live the same sort of lifestyle: all about fun, pleasure and parties, except here it is manipulated and enforced by the shadowy authorities, the Specials.
Post-Prettification, Tally's world looks jarringly different, taking us right back to the worldview she held at the beginning of Uglies: mindlessly accepting the way things are. This time, though, it is all the more sinister because we know what has brought her to this point, and appreciate the tragedy of Tally having forgotten all the valuable information and life lessons she learned in the Smoke in Uglies.

Plot-wise, this installment didn't really grab me. Whether it was the slang or the over-reliance on hoverboards, bungee jackets or crash bracelets, or the fact that the story seemed like a repetition of the prequel, or yet another flippin' love triangle, I whizzed through the story quickly without really engaging with it. But there were just enough cliffhangers and hooks to keep me going, wanting just one more question answered before I put it down. And the never-quite defined "Bubbly" started to make sense, a word that seemed at various times to mean happy, brave, clever or cool, and basically "alive" as opposed to the empty-headed contentment and acceptance that is the norm for new Pretties.

1 comment:

  1. Another incredible journey with Tally Youngblood. Pretties introduces new friends, new feelings, new discoveries, even new romance! Ending romantically and painfully Pretties is a definite must read! If you enjoy this book try reading Specials (book 3).

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