Tally has finally become pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot, 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’s 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—because the authorities don’t intend to let anyone with this information survive.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
By Scott Westerfeld
Simon PulseCopyright © 2005 Scott Westerfeld
All right reserved.
Exerpt from Pretties
Getting dressed was always the hardest part of the afternoon.
The invitation to Valentino Mansion said semiformal, but it was the semi part that was tricky. Like a night without a party, "semi" opened up too many possibilities. Bad enough for boys, for whom it could mean jacket and tie (skipping the tie with certain kinds of collars), or all white and shirtsleeves (but only on summer afternoons), or any number of longcoats, waistcoats, tailcoats, kilts, or really nice sweaters. For girls, though, the definition simply exploded, as definitions usually did here in New Pretty Town.
Tally almost preferred formal white-tie or black-tie parties. The clothes were less comfortable and the parties no fun until everyone got drunk, but at least you didn't have to think so hard about getting dressed.
"Semiformal, semiformal," she said, her eyes drifting over the expanse of her open closet, the carousel stuttering back and forth as it tried to keep up with Tally's random eyemouse clicks, setting clothes swaying on their hangers. Yes, "semi" was definitely a bogus word.
"Is it even a word?" Tally asked aloud. "'Semi'?" It felt strange in her mouth, which was dry as cotton because of last night.
"Only half of one," the room said, probably thinking it was clever.
"Figures," Tally muttered.
She collapsed back onto her bed and stared up at the ceiling, feeling the room threaten to spin a little. It didn't seem fair, having to get worked up over half a word. "Make it go away," she said.
The room misunderstood, and slid shut the wall over her closet. Tally didn't have the strength to explain that she'd really meant her hangover, which was sprawled in her head like an overweight cat, sullen and squishy and disinclined to budge.
Last night, she and Peris had gone skating with a bunch of other Crims, trying out the new rink hovering over Nefertiti Stadium. The sheet of ice, held aloft by a grid of lifters, was thin enough to see through, and was kept transparent by a horde of little Zambonies darting among the skaters like nervous water bugs. The fireworks exploding in the stadium below made it glow like some kind of schizoid stained glass that changed colors every few seconds.
They all had to wear bungee jackets in case anyone broke through. No one ever did, of course, but the thought that at any moment the world could fall away with a sudden crack kept Tally drinking plenty of champagne.
Zane, who was pretty much the leader of the Crims, got bored and tipped a whole bottle onto the ice. He said that alcohol had a lower freezing point than water, so it might send someone tumbling down into the fireworks. But he hadn't poured out enough to save Tally's head this morning.
The room made the special sound that meant another Crim was calling.
"Shay-la!" Tally struggled up onto one elbow. "I need help!"
"The party? I know."
"What's the deal with semiformal, anyway?"
Shay laughed. "Tally-wa, you are so missing. Didn't you get the ping?"
"It went out hours ago."
Tally glanced at her interface ring, still on her bedside table. She never wore it at night, an old habit from when she'd been an ugly, sneaking out all the time. It sat there softly pulsing, still muted for sleeptime. "Oh. Just woke up."
"Well forget semi anything. They changed the bash to fancy dress. We have to come up with costumes!"
Tally checked the time: just before five in the afternoon. "What, in three hours?"
"Yeah, I know. I'm all over the place with mine. It's so shaming. Can I come down?"
"Sure. Bring breakfast. Bye."
Tally let her head fall back onto the pillow. The bed was spinning like a hoverboard now, the day just starting and already wiping out.
She slipped on her interface ring and listened angrily as the ping played, saying that no one would be admitted tonight without a really bubbly costume. Three hours to come up with something decent, and everyone else had a huge head start.
Sometimes, it felt like being a real criminal had been much, much simpler.
Shay had breakfast in tow: lobster omelettes, toast, hash browns, corn fritters, grapes, chocolate muffins, and Bloodies -- more food than a whole packet of calorie purgers could erase. The overburdened tray shivered in the air, its lifters trembling like a littlie arriving at school, first day ever.
"Um, Shay? Are we going as blimps or something?"
Shay giggled. "No, but you sounded bad. And you have to be bubbly tonight. All the Crims are coming to vote you in."
"Great, bubbly." Tally sighed, relieving the tray of a Bloody Mary. She frowned at the first sip. "Not salty enough."
"No problem," Shay said, scraping off the caviar decorating an omelette and stirring it in.
"Caviar is good with anything." Shay took another spoonful and put it straight into her mouth, closing her eyes to chew the little fish eggs. She twisted her ring to start some music.
Tally swallowed and drank more Bloody, which at least stopped the room from spinning. The chocolate muffins were starting to smell good. Then she'd move on to the hash browns. Then the omelette; she might even try the caviar. Breakfast was the meal when Tally most felt like she had to make up for the time she'd lost out in the wild. A good breakfast binge made her feel in control, as if a storm of city-made tastes could erase the months of stews and SpagBol.
The music was new and made her heart beat faster. "Thanks, Shay-la. You are totally life-saving."
"No problem, Tally-wa."
"So where were you last night, anyway?"
Shay just smiled, like she'd done something bad.
"What? New boy?"
Shay shook her head. Batted her eyes.
"You didn't surge again, did you?" Tally asked, and Shay giggled. "You did. You're not supposed to more than once a week. Could you be any more missing?"
"It's okay, Tally-wa. Just local."
"Where?" Shay's face didn't look any different. Was the surgery hidden under her pajamas?
"Look closer." Shay's long lashes fluttered again.
Tally leaned forward, staring into the perfect copper eyes, wide and speckled with jewel dust, and her heart beat still faster. A month after coming to New Pretty Town, Tally was still awestruck by other pretties' eyes. They were so huge and welcoming, bright with interest. Shay's lush pupils seemed to murmur, I'm listening to you. You fascinate me. They narrowed down the world to only Tally, all alone in the radiance of Shay's attention.
It was even weirder with Shay, because Tally had known her back in ugly days, before the operation had made her this way.
Tally took a steadying breath, the room spinning again, but in a good way. She gestured for the windows to transpare a little more, and in the sunlight she saw the new additions. "Ooh, pretty-making."
Bolder than all the other implanted glitter, twelve tiny rubies ringed each of Shay's pupils, glowing softly red against emerald irises.
"Yeah. But hang on...are the bottom-left ones different?" Tally squinted harder. One jewel in each eye seemed to be flickering, a tiny white candle in the coppery depths.
"It's five o'clock!" Shay said. "Get it?"
It took Tally a second to remember how to read the big clock tower in the center of town. "Um, but that's seven. Wouldn't bottom-right be five o'clock?"
Shay snorted. "They run counterclockwise, silly. I mean, so boring otherwise."
A laugh bubbled up in Tally. "So wait. You have jewels in your eyes? And they tell time? And they go backward? Isn't that maybe one thing too many, Shay?"
Tally immediately regretted what she'd said. The expression that clouded Shay's face was tragic, sucking away the radiance of a moment before. She looked about to cry, except without puffy eyes or a red nose. New surge was always a delicate topic, like a new hairstyle, almost.
"You hate them," Shay softly accused.
"Of course I don't. Like I said: totally pretty-making."
"Very. And it's good they go backward."
Shay's smile returned, and Tally breathed a sigh of relief, still not believing herself. It was the kind of mistake only brand-new pretties made, and she'd had the operation over a month ago. Why was she still saying bogus things? If she made a comment like that tonight, one of the Crims might vote against her. It only took one veto to shut you out.
And then she'd be alone, almost like running away again.
Shay said, "Maybe we should go as clock towers tonight, in honor of my new eyeballs."
Tally laughed, knowing the lame joke meant she was forgiven. She and Shay had been through a lot together, after all. "Have you talked to Peris and Fausto?"
Shay nodded. "They said we're all supposed to dress criminal. They've got an idea already, but it's secret."
"That's so bogus. Like they were such bad boys. All they ever did in the ugly days was sneak out and maybe cross the river a few times. They never even made it to the Smoke."
The song ended just then, and Tally's last word fell into sudden silence. She tried to think of what to say, but the conversation just faded out, like fireworks in a dark sky. The next song seemed to take a long time to start.
When it did, she was relieved and said, "Crim costumes should be easy, Shay-la. We're the two biggest criminals in town."
Copyrightcopy; 2005 by Scott Westerfeld
Excerpted from Pretties by Scott Westerfeld Copyright © 2005 by Scott Westerfeld. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
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Reading Group Guide
A Reading Group Guide for
by Scott Westerfeld
About the Books
Living in a future where sixteen-year-olds are surgically transformed from "uglies" to "pretties," Tally Youngblood struggles with a choice: to become beautiful and content forever living in a high-tech paradise, or to leave the world she knows and keep her own identity. Tally's decisions lead her on an incredible journey, which forces her to grow, change, and learn.
Set a few years after the end of Specials, Extras follows a new girl, Aya Fuse, in a new town. As Tally did, Aya has some problems being a fifteen-year-old ugly, but this new world is filled with new technologies and new challenges as well. Now the focus of society is on fame. The world is like a gigantic game of American Idol. Whoever is getting the most buzz gets the most votes and the highest rank. Popularity rules. Everyone wants to be famous, and Aya is prepared to do almost anything to bring her face rank up from 451,369, a number so low, she’s a total nobody. An extra. She has no idea what kind of fame she can achieve propelling her into a world of fame, celebrity, and extreme danger.
1. On your sixteenth birthday, how would you feel about being forced to have the surgery to become pretty? Would you feel like Tally—looking forward to being beautiful and bubbly—or like Shay—wanting to escape the surgery and stay ugly, but remain herself? If your best friend asked you not to have the surgery, what do you think you would have chosen to do?
2. What elements of the Smoke remind you of a camping trip you've taken or one you've seen on TV or in a movie? What advice would you give the Smokies about living in the wild?
3. Tally has three important guys in her life: Peris, David and Zane. How does her relationship with each of the three affect her decisions at different points in the story? Which of the three do you think made the greatest impact on Tally?
4. Compare Tally's society with our society today. What are the similarities between Dr. Cable's controls and our own government? Just as Tally and her friends were brought up learning about the failure of the Rusties' society, what lessons can be learned from the future portrayed in the series?
5. The author created new worlds, new technology, and new language for the books. Which location—New Pretty Town, the Smoke, or Diego—would you want to make your home? Which of Tally's futuristic possessions—a hoverboard, a sneak suit, SpagBol—would you like to own? What were your favorite slang words in the series?
6. What do you think was the pivotal point in each of the four books? What would you change about them?
7. What are Tally's strongest assets and her tragic flaws? What about Shay? David? Zane?
8. Is Dr. Cable a protagonist or an antagonist? At what points in the series does she seem more good than evil or more evil than good? Does she have the best interests of the people of Pretty Town at heart or is she simply trying to gain power and prestige?
9. If the Uglies series was made into a movie, who would you cast to play the part of Tally? Shay? David? Zane? Peris? Dr. Cable? Where in the world do you think it should be filmed? Who would be the best director for this project?
10. Who was your favorite character in the series? How did you feel about how they ended up at the end of Specials? Which character do you think is the most like you or your friends?
11. Imagine that David decided to live in the city of Diego. What challenges would he face there, having grown up in the wild? What would a day in the life of David in Diego be like? Do you think he'd get used to his new life, or decide to return to his old one?
12. Before reading Extras, where do you see Tally two years after the end of Specials? How about Shay? Peris? What do you think Pretty Town and Diego would be like?
13. If you were suddenly famous like Aya, what would you spend all of your credits on? Would you have moved into Shuffle Mansion?
14. Many of the issues that are current hot topics in our world are tackled within the pages of Extras. Compare the hovercam frenzy and Tally’s obsession with fame to our tabloids and paparazzi and the Lindsay Lohans of the world. What comparisons can be made between our concerns about the environment and Tally’s concerns about the inhumans’ treatment of natural resources?
15. Would you have had the guts to surf on the mag-lev trains like Aya and the Sly Girls? Do you think they were daring or crazy? Would you have gone that far just to find out the Sly Girls’ secrets so you could kick their story?
16. Discuss the relationships in Extras—Aya and Hiro, Aya and Frizz, Aya and the Sly Girls, Aya and Tally—and how they change throughout the course of the book.
17. Who do you relate to more: Tally or Aya? How are the two different and how are they alike? Would you rather be Tally’s friend or Aya’s? Why?
18. How would you feel if your every move was filmed by a hovercam? Would you want to own a Moggle of your own?
19. Would you be willing to try Radical Honesty? Do you think total honesty at all times is possible? How long do you think you would last without lying?
20. List all of the Japanese items and references in Extras. If Scott Westerfeld were to write another book in this series, where should the book be set? Why? What unique qualities of that location would make it an interesting choice?
21. Were you happy with the ending of Extras? If not, how would you have ended it? Which of the books in this series is your favorite? Why?
Research and Activities
1. Design your own hoverboard. First make a blueprint including what kinds of gadgets you would put in its secret compartments, then make a prototype using cardboard, paper towel rolls, markers, etc.
2. Act out a scene from one of the books. Assign parts to each participant and choose your favorite scene—maybe Tally's first trip to New Pretty Town to visit Peris, the invasion of the Smoke by Special Circumstances, or the destruction of the Armory.
3. Put a pretty spin on a sport (think about the suspended ice skating rink in Pretties) and come up with your own bubbly rules and regulations.
4. Put yourself in Dr. Cable's shoes. Take turns telling the Specials story from her point of view and include what you think her motives were behind her actions in the previous two books.
5. Look at the covers of Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and Extras. Then redraw your own version of each of the covers highlighting your favorite scene from each book.
6. Map Aya and Tally’s journey, starting in Tokyo. Use clues you find in Extras to help you determine the route they took.