Thursday, 12 July 2012

Pretties - Scott Westerfeld (#2)

**There may be some spoilers from the first book, Uglies (click here for my review) in this review**

Last month, I finally read Uglies, the first book in this series by Scott Westerfeld evolving around sixteen year-old Tally on her journey from Ugly to Pretty to Special. I say 'finally' because this is a series I have pondered and been looking at for the majority of my teenage years - never quite having the nerve to buy the book nor seeing a copy in the library. 
I think the thing that spurred me last month to read this series of books I had grown up with was the new covers (left). Before the covers used to have bits of Barbie's on the cover that, now having read the first two books, I understand why the designer would have chosen that. Bits of Barbie (what teenager now can say they DIDN'T have a Barbie doll?!)  on the front cover? Now that's intriguing for my 12 year-old self. If you want to have a look at what I'm rattling on about, head to Google or click here.

Synopsis: It's a month since Tally gave herself up to become a Pretty. Now, Tally is finally Pretty - something she's always wanted to be. She has the perfect face and body, all the best clothes, completely popular - all with romance in her life as well as her best friend, Shay. This is her dream from when she was an Ugly. But that was before she met Shay, David and co, went to the Smoke and learnt the secret behind becoming Pretty. Beneath all the fun, Tally knows there is something wrong that she needs to remember. A person and message arrive from Tally's ugly past life and suddenly, Tally is awoken from the fun and remembers what is wrong with New Pretty Town. 

Review: I'd read a mixture of reviews for the sequel after finishing Uglies. With one blogger proclaiming 'Don't read Uglies or you'll want to read Pretties and Specials - they are awful. Don't read Uglies or you'll be drawn in hook, line and sinker'. However, I had been hooked, lined and sinkered into Tally's world and I desperately needed to read the next book to find out what would happen next. What would happen to David? Or Shay? Who was this Fausto guy in the sneak peek at Pretties section at the back of Uglies? Does she remember? WHAT WILL HAPPEN?

One thing I liked about Uglies is the setting and the post-apocalyptic world. The thing with Uglies that made the book for me is how uncomfortable I felt at times thinking how well I could see Tally's world becoming our own.
Although, this world hasn't gone and is built upon more in Pretties, I felt that it wasn't as life-like or relatable as the last book which I guess lost a little of the enjoyment factor. Any readers of this will find out more about Tally's world and how the cure of becoming Pretty came about. There is more mystery and surprises but not as much as I would have liked and only really latterly.

I admit that this book did take some time to pick up. The first quarter of the book is about Tally's new life before she discovers this message that reminds her of her ugly days. I found that it's only really when she discovers this message that the story picks up - before hand it is merely describing her dull, repetitive Pretty life of parties and clothes. The first chapter is, if you were not a fan of Uglies, hardly going to draw you in straight away. So my advice: even if the beginning seems rubbish, keep going because it is worth it.
The second half of the book is after something big happens which leaves Tally alone. I found this also quite interesting to learn about another aspect of the outside.

From the Uglies review, I stated I liked the mystery and intrigue from the world. Although the mystery I meant here is solved either in this book or in Uglies. However, in top of those, more mystery was created in Pretties as the reader, and Tally, find out more of this world she lives in. I must admit, it's a pretty intriguing world where a lot is hidden from public view.

I liked the character of Tally in Uglies, despite feeling a little detached at times because of the 3rd person narrative. The same here really, although something was different and lost on Tally this time. She wasn't as determined and strong-minded in this book as in Uglies and I think that is all down to the fact she is Pretty. I didn't feel attached again to her, but definitely less attached than before.
There are some new characters - both small and big as well as revelations about these characters - both small and big. I found the new characters okay and it is nice to have this mix of new and old characters that make more consequences in Tally's life. As I found in Uglies, Shay annoyed me so much in this book. She is someone the reader is forced not to like throughout this set of books so far - but her character is. SO. IRRITATING. She gets angry over the smallest things and the thing that gets her angry in this novel, I just think is slightly ridiculous. And what she does afterwards - seriously?!

Overall, I would definitely read this if you are a fan of either Scott Westerfeld or the Uglies series so far. Although this isn't as good as Uglies was, this is still pretty good and a good follow-up. I'm not sure if it has suffered from 'second-book' sickness but this book has definitely made me want to read Specials, the last in the trilogy. There are things that I missed from Uglies or things I didn't like about Pretties but overall, I think some of the bad reviews out there for this book are a little too harsh. This is one of the better sequels I have read.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 370
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Challenges: None.

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