New Pretty Town Sounds Fun

 

"Uglies" by Scott Westerfeld - book coverIn his series, Uglies, Scott Westerfeld introduces readers to Tally Youngblood, a young heroine (I mean, I’m assuming that she’ll turn out to be a heroine, giving her the benefit of the doubt here by upgrading her from ‘protagonist’ to ‘heroine’) who is about to turn sixteen. In her weird and messed up society, turning sixteen marks a rite of passage in a young person’s life. At this point, they undergo extensive plastic surgery to correct all of their natural “ugly” features, surgically replacing them with idealized ones. Whose ideals, you ask? I’m not entirely sure. Apparently, it doesn’t matter because humans are biologically wired to respond to a “certain kind of beauty”:

There was a certain kind of beauty, a prettiness that everyone could see. Big eyes and full lips like a kid’s; smooth, clear skin; symmetrical features; and a thousand other little clues. (Westerfeld 16)

I mean, that does sound like Beyonce and I do have a biological response to her soooo

BUT LET’S BE SERIOUS. This is a load of crap. There is no “certain kind of beauty” that everyone biologically responds to. I would buy that everyone is socially conditioned to respond to “a certain kind of beauty,” but even then my use of “everyone” is flat and problematic so…

OKAY BUT THIS IS A PIECE OF FICTION, CATHERINE. You know, “fiction,” as in not real.

Right. Fine. I was just saying.

So in this FICTIONAL world, after you turn sixteen and undergo this transformation, you become what’s known as a “Pretty”. Before that, in all of your natural glory, you would be an “Ugly.” The Pretties live in New Pretty Town and the Uglies live in Uglyville.

Uglyville sounds like a police-state ghetto, whereas NPT sounds like what would happen if you turned an entire town into a VR night club. There are fireworks, parties, sex and alcohol everywhere. Everything appears to be free. Pretties appear to have zero responsibilities. Party robots patrol the town to encourage people to party harder. Everything is rigged so that people can’t hurt themselves or each other. All the fun with none of the consequences. God I am so worried for everyone in this town.

I gotta say, Westerfeld, I hope that your lack of creativity on the nouns in this book is an indication of greater effort spent on the story’s formal elements because *holy lord dyin’* these are bad:

  • Tally Youngblood is primarily defined in the beginning of the book as too young to be a pretty
  • Society is divided between attractive people called Pretties and unattractive people called Uglies
  • Pretties live in New Pretty Town and Uglies live in Uglyville

It’s as if he put these names in as place-keepers until he finished writing the rest of the book and then, once finished, he thought “Aw, screw it, good enough, let’s get this puppy published already”. That’s purely conjecture, of course (Does anyone know if this happened for real? Because I would 100% believe it)

In terms of plot, I’m only four chapters in, so not much has happened. I’ve met Tally who wants to be a pretty so bad it hurts. Not because she wants to be “pretty” per say (she does, though) but because she wants to be reunited with Peris, her BFF. She wants to be pretty for him. I think I know where this is going.

SO. Peris is three months older than Tally and has already been mutated into this “pretty” thing. Tally sneaks over to New Pretty Town, where Uglies aren’t allowed to go, and finds Peris—she had to talk to him, you guys. REASONS—and he promptly tells her to GTFO of there and to only come back when she’s pretty like he is: “I want to see you pretty” (18), he tells her.

I don’t know about the rest of you but this sounds a lot like high school.

Whilst attempting to escape NPT (she’s being chased at this point because she’s been discovered as an intruder), Tally meets Shay, fellow soon-to-be-pretty trespasser and they manage to get back to Uglyville without being caught. They bond over their ostracism and estrangement from newly-Pretty friends and Shay teaches Tally how to ride a hoverboard.

That’s it, you’re caught up.

Now it’s time for everyone’s favourite: PREDICTIONS!

  1. Tally will not become a Pretty
  2. She will try to ‘save’ Peris from being a Pretty, she will try to get him to see her inner beauty and understand that “beauty is not just skin deep” but he’s too far gone. She has to leave him behind.
  3. I’m betting this whole “Uglies” and “Pretties” thing is the result of a reproduction crisis of some kind, a la Children of Men
  4. Shay and Tally fall in love (this probably won’t happen but the text is PRIMED for it so I’m putting it out there)
  5. Tally gets arrested for something, meets “Uglies” who think that this whole Ugly vs. Pretties system is a bunch of BS
    • Shay is already one of the leaders of this underground resistance. That’s what she was really doing there that night.
  6. Tally starts/joins a rebellion against the Pretties/Uglies system

That’s all for now! Coffee beckons.

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Anna Karenina: HIMYM and Early Predictions

As soon as I saw the name Scherbatsky in Anna Karenina I thought to myself “Could it be?” which was almost instantly followed up by a quick Google search, which told me that yes, it could be and yes, it was so. Robin Scherbatsky was indeed named after Kitty Scherbatsky.

I wasn’t the first person to discover this, but it feels good to be right.

Robin-how-i-met-your-mother-31111428-1024-768

On another note, Anna has just pulled in to the train station in the book, and Vronsky is so instantly infatuated with her he has all but walked in to a wall.

Full disclosure: when the story took a dark turn and it was announced that someone had been run over by the train, I thought it was Levin FOR SURE. Having been so completely shattered by Kitty’s refusal, I thought he had thrown himself in front of the train. It wasn’t him, though. Apparently Tolstoy is not that dramatic.

To those of you who are paying attention and who have read the book before, this is a clear indication that I have not made a ton of progress in AK yet. Kindle says I’m 7% done.

I was sucked in to a black hole of YA Fiction for a little while there. After reading Black City and PheonixI read The Testing series (it was okay) and The Murder Complex (it was less okay). I almost started reading the sequel to the latter, The Death Code, and then half-way through the first page I thought to myself “Catherine, you are better than this.” I put it down and picked up AK again, and here we are.

PREDICTIONS:

Anna and Vronsky

Obviously Anna and Vronsky are going to fall in love and run away together, breaking poor Kitty’s little adolescent heart [serves her right!]. The part of me that enjoys seeing egotistical men taken down a peg or two hopes that Anna rejects him in some kind of cruel way. But this probably won’t happen.

This would leave the loose end of Anna’s husband and son…so let’s take a wild guess here and say that they go back for her son.

Oblonsky

Oblonsky and his wife divorce and he goes off with his mistress. They have to sell the house due to Oblonsky’s crippling debt.

Dolly and Levin

Dolly and Levin end up together, finding comfort in each other’s broken hearts. Dolly and the kids move out to the country with Levin, and having access to so much free labour, Levin becomes wildly productive and successful.

Kitty

And Kitty ends up alone. Or with Oblonsky’s friend with the weird nails. That’ll teach her for breaking a sweet man’s heart.

Now off to find out how far off base I am with these!