Thursday, 23 February 2012

Review: Pretties (Uglies #2), Scott Westerfeld

Pretties (Uglies #2)

Scott Westerfeld

Simon & Schuster, 2006 (2005)*

Tally has finally become pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are cool, her boyfriend is totally gorgeous, and she's completely popular. It's everything she's ever wanted.

But beneath all the fun - the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom - is a nagging sense that something is very wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally's ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what's wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold.

Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life...

It might seem rather ominous to begin a review of Pretties by saying that I really enjoyed Uglies. But I did. So I was pleased to have borrowed Pretties from the library at the same time, so I could dive straight into the next instalment of the story. Pretties picks up pretty much where Uglies left off, with Tally now a Pretty, living it up in New Pretty Town with her new (and some old) friends. Except before long, Tally's Ugly past collides with her new Pretty life, and once again escape is on the cards.

Perhaps it's because this is the second book in the trilogy, and there's a balancing act to be performed in setting everything up for the third book, but I felt like something was lacking distinctly the whole way through. What it was, I can't quite put my finger on, but there was a lot of back-and-forth, who-knows-what, who-remembers-what stuff going on, and it all got reasonably confusing, or perhaps I just didn't care enough.

My main criticism of Uglies (a book I enjoyed a lot) was that the background to the world being built by Westerfeld was left largely unexplained at times, which I suspected would be rectified in this book. I said this in my review of Uglies - I'm not a fan of the info dump, but I like to know the whys and the hows. Yet there were niggly bits in this that irritated me, such as the continued references to Pretties not getting diseases, or illnesses, only injuries. And then in the hovercar later on, Tally notices an emergency lever, to be pulled by the "littlies" in case the driver has a heart attack. For some reason that seemed contradictory. A small thing, but in a rather unsatisfying book, it stood out.

There were other things that bugged me: the Pretty-slang (which worked, as far as characterising the Pretties, it was just grating to read), and Tally's inability to make a good decision, in particular. Crucially, I never warmed to Zane much, which might explain a lot, and it was a shame (although understandable) that the only female friendship in the book was pretty much torn apart.

I enjoyed the first part of the book, where Tally begins to see the cracks in her new life appearing, and the ending was sufficiently intriguing and exciting enough to make me tempted to pick up the third book, to see how it "ends" (although I am aware that there is a fourth instalment, too). It was just the middle that sagged too much for me, but I might return to this series at a later date.

Overall rating: 5/10

Book source: Borrowed from the public library.

*UK edition. See my reviews page for more information.

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