Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Specials - Scott Westerfeld (#3)

**There may be some spoilers for anyone that has not read the whole of the Uglies series: Uglies #1 (review) and Pretties #2 (review)**

For the last few months, I have been tackling a series which I have spent years and years acknowledging my interest and adding to my to-read list, yet never actually reading this set of books. This the third and final book in the trilogy that was first planned for this series. However, afterwards, the series was made a quartet with the addition of Extras which is set a few years after the original trilogy with a different protagonist in a different city.
This series has been fantastic so far, action-packed, fast-paced in a world of mystery, intrigue, lies and secrets. It's far to say the last two books have been far from boring. As a recap, Tally lives in a world where once you turn 16, you are made into a Pretty and live in New Pretty Town where all you do is basically party and drink. And party some more. However, runaways have gone missing for years around their sixteenth birthday, meaning they stay an Ugly and don't go under the knife in extreme cosmetic surgery to become this perfect Pretty. Tally meets Shay, an Ugly with the same birthday as her in Book #1 and she discovers this place for runaways as well as secrets about her own world. This trilogy has watched Tally turn from Ugly to Pretty and now, finally to Special. It's far to say my expectations were pretty mountainous.

Synopsis: Specials Circumstances were once words that sent a chill through Tally when she was an Ugly and Pretty. The Special Circumstances were an elite secret group which no Ugly or Pretty knew were true or merely a myth. They were reserved to help out and monitor the most disastrous special circumstances. But now, Tally is one of them and become a fighting machine. However, underneath the intense speed, strength and new found focus and clarity of vision and mind, there is something nudging at Tally's heart. Something - or someone - she has to remember. Tally's job as a Cutter is to take down the New Smoke forever, a part of Tally's personal history. Will she listen to her heart or will she do what she is programmed to do?

Review: I loved the Uglies series and overall the imagination and originality of Scott Westerfeld's writing of this fascinating and intriguing world. However, I have to admit I was a little disappointed for the climax of the trilogy.

As I mentioned in my Pretties review, there was something lost from Tally when she turned into a Pretty. In Specials, I expected the Tally that is in the latter part of Pretties, although as a killing machine Special. I was wrong. For me, Tally lost more from Pretty in her personality, she is hardly the person she was at the end of Uglies. She seems very naive and like a sheep, taking people's orders, even near the end when really, she shouldn't be like that (without revealing too much). I loved Tally's strong and individual personality in Uglies and in Pretties, but here in Specials, I felt nothing for her, she seemed a rather mediocre character to me.

Another character that I had strong feelings throughout this series about was Shay, a on-off friend of Tally's. I found her so irritating the whole way through, even when she was an Ugly. Here, for the majority of the novel, she is the same old Shay. Annoying, power-hungry and thinks she's oh-so-amazing. However, there is a twist in her character near the end of the book which I liked and I ended the novel with Shay completely redeemed. It was a nice way to end like saying 'Yeah, there are two sides to people'.
The other cast of characters all have something alarming and different about them compared to their portrayal in the other two books. I found that Zane, David, Fausto and Peris became almost like background characters, although they have all made an impact on Tally's life. I would have liked to see more of them.

Despite all my negativity so far, this book still holds what I found the most interesting and entertaining in the first two books of this series. The world. The world is so detailed in Uglies, although less, admittingly, in Pretties and Specials. Yet, this world is shockingly similar to both perhaps our futures and now. All three of these books have held revelations about Tally's world from Tally's own city to the wild to now a different city. What I also liked about Specials was the subtle hints to exactly where in America this trilogy has been set in. There are mentions of Death Valley and San Diego which makes me think that Tally's own city is either Los Angeles or Las Vegas, both of which I find quite ironic. For real Uglies fans, it's great to know finally where this is set after the mystery before.

The writing was clear, especially with some phrases from Tally's world that you might not necessarily understand. The way Scott Westerfeld writes makes it easy to work out what that means. Although at times when describing objects or actions, I was a little lost, overall, I had no problems with his writing.
Now, having read the whole series, it is clear to see Scott Westerfeld's message. In this series of books, he uses our future to tackle issues of today - war, self-harming, appearances, bullying, drugs are all aspects that crop up in this book alone that send a hidden message for those looking between the lines. So cleverly done for those that are truly paying attention.

Overall, I found the reason for reading Specials to the end was to complete Tally's story for myself. I wanted to know what happened to this world and Tally's decision at the end (which I also found a little disappointing although nice). The ending for me, seemed to just end like Westerfeld didn't know what else to say. In short, this book was disappointing and I found Uglies and Pretties much more engaging and just, better.
This book is made for true Uglies fans and although some parts I feel could have been better, there is plenty more to excite, worry and entice you. This is one action-packed series that I'm so glad I finally read.

I really hope this series gets made into a movie - I think it would be amazing.

I give it a 3 out of 5

Author's Website: http://scottwesterfeld.com/
Pages: 384
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Challenges: None

Related Posts: 
Review: Uglies #1
Review: Pretties #2
Review: So Yesterday (also by Scott Westerfeld)


  1. It's such a shame that you lost your love for Tally in this one. It's an all round amazing trilogy though and definitely worth reading.

  2. I still need to read this series! Ah, it sounds like Uglies was unbeatable, in terms of Tally and her 'realness'? If that makes sense...

    All the aspects you mentioned that are included in this series are all topics that need to be done well to work. And it sounds like they do, in this. Which makes me even keener to read thee Uglies series!

    It's a shame it wasn't as good as the first book, but I'm glad the third instalment proved a good read.<3

    1. I think it was just more of a disappointment. The pace was slow to start with so I think that didn't help. You should read these books! The first book is the best, but then that is often the case, right? I think if you like any dystopian fiction, you would like this - this was one of first more modern dystopians so there are similarities.

      I think she is the most real in Uglies because she is exactly like us then although in a totally different world. Ah, you should read these!


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