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4.3 52
Young Adult Fiction 114
Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
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Reader reviewed by Megan

Tally's story continues from the previous book, UGLIES, in this second installment of Scott Westerfeld's futuristic trilogy. Tally is now a pretty who lives only for good times. While attending a party at which she is to be voted into the Crims clique, she is followed by someone appearing to be a member of the ominous Special Circumstances team.

Tally can only remember her previous adventures as an ugly outside New Pretty Town in brief disconnected snatches. She is shocked to discover that the person stalking her is Croy, an old friend from the Smoke. He has something for her, he tells her, but she must search for it later in a certain secret spot. She agrees, bemused by his repellant ugliness, including his big pores and tangled hair --- all the imperfections that the surgery to become a pretty transforms to beauty.

Tally returns to her pretty life, concentrating on the fun she has with her friends. Her peace is disrupted when gorgeous Zane, leader of the Crims, asks her about David, whom she loved when she lived in the Smoke. In fact, Zane once knew Croy and had been determined to escape to the Smoke before his surgery. He regrets that he didn't go into the wilderness then.

Zane is eager to accompany Tally in finding the mysterious object Croy has hidden for her. They must face strenuous, dangerous physical challenges in order to locate the gift, which is accompanied by a startling and eye-opening letter from Tally to herself, written before she underwent the pretty surgery and explaining to her future self her motive in becoming a pretty --- to save all the pretties. Zane and Tally also learn that the pretties' brains are altered during their surgery. When the two share what Croy left for Tally, everything in their lives changes, putting Zane's health at risk and infuriating Tally's friend Shay.

As with UGLIES, you cannot read this book without questioning values and mindsets prevalent not only in New Pretty Town in the future but also here and now. How much will people surrender in order to be pretty? What is the price of popularity and conformity? Can people who relinquish everything get a second chance? As in UGLIES, the plot pace is rapid and exciting, the characters are real, and the situations are truly frightening.

How good is this book? I read it in a day, unable to concentrate on anything else until I finished it. After the tantalizing ending, I'm filled with delicious anticipation for the third book in the series, SPECIALS.
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