Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and Extras

By Scott Westerfeld. Published in 2005, 2005, 2006, and 2007, respectively.

When I was about eleven years old, I decided I was far too grown up for children’s books. I refused to even set foot in the Young Adult section and instead wandered with proud determination through general fiction. I didn’t always truly get the books, but I unnerved a few middle-school teachers by declaring Larry McMurtry’s epic, violent, Pulitzer Prize–winning Lonesome Dove my favorite novel, and—let’s face it—that was part of the reason I was reading it. (To be fair, though, I never would have gotten through the eight-hundred-page tome if I didn’t genuinely enjoy it.)

Anyway, Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series is exactly the sort of thing I would have dismissed out of hand as a teenager but also exactly the sort of thing I would have enjoyed if I hadn’t been so vain. The writing itself is serviceable, if not particularly inspiring, but the characters are interesting, the ideas are provocative, and nothing is black-and-white. I would have appreciated that then, and I appreciate it now.