Specials by Scott Westerfeld

Ages 13 and up

In Uglies, we met Tally Youngblood, a young girl who was counting down the days until she could be made “Pretty”. When her best friend, Shay runs away Tally is forced to follow her to the Smoke–a group rebelling against the city’s pretty-operation. There she learns that being pretty is not all that it seems to be. In Pretties, Tally has become pretty herself in order to reverse the operation that Shay never wanted. There, she meets Zane, a new pretty who is trying to break free of the mind-numbing personality change as well. Together, they manage to break free of the city and find the remnant of the Smoke. But they are captured once again.

In Specials, Tally has been surgically altered against her will for a second time. But this time, instead of making her complacent, the operation was to turn her into a hardened, “clear”-minded fighting machine. When her ex-boyfriend David and a group of Smokies crash a bash in the ugly dorms and kidnap a member from Tally’s new group, the Cutters, she and Shay must come up with a plan to get him back. And take down the New Smoke. This plan involves Zane, still recovering from the brain-damage inflicted by the “cure”. As Tally follows him, trying to locate the Smoke’s new base, she finds everything she knows being challenged once again. With her various lives pulling at her, Tally must rediscover who she is beneath it all. Because that has never changed.

I am of two minds with this book. On the one hand, I loved it. Loved the series. Couldn’t get enough of it. It was odd finally getting to the “last” book after several years of putting it aside for other things in life (And yes, technically it is the last book in the trilogy. But don’t forget, Extras is still out there). But on the other hand, oh the ending made me SO mad. But I’ll get to that when I figure out how to talk about it without giving everything away.

One of my favorite things about these books is that Westerfield so totally immerses you in the world and thoughts of Tally that you end thinking and speaking like Tally and her friends. Seriously, ask my friends. “Nervous-making” was definitely a part of my vocabulary for months after I read the first two books. Westerfield carries that on to the third book. And it works out well. In this book, perhaps more than any other time, Tally’s mind is completely different from the people around her. I find it interesting thinking that perhaps, had Dr. Cable never sent Tally after Shay in book one, she would have happily become a Pretty, but going into the Wild seems to have woken something in Tally that could not be shut down again. As Tally proves in books two and three.

Suspense? Hmmm, I don’t think it would be a proper Uglies book if there wasn’t suspense. If you’ve read the first two, it does seem to start out a little slow, but it picks up quite quickly. You’re right into the action after the first few chapters. If you haven’t read them yet, well, you should, because they are page-turners.

My only problem with this series is the ending. No, I’m not just saying that because Westerfield tricked me into thinking she’d end up with [Spoiler] instead of [Double-spoiler]. No, I’m not saying that because I’m usually right about these things and ended up wrong (which can be quite fun actually, on occasion). I happen to like happy endings. Really happy endings. Like, Disney-type happy endings. Granted, not all books lend themselves to Prince Charming riding off with the (Pick-Your-Princess) on a white horse. And this definitely wasn’t one of them. Obviously, (as was the case with Hunger Games) too much has happened for Tally to pick up the pieces right away and have everything be all sunshine and rainbows. But, for me, I didn’t get to even see that the pieces were picked up eventually. Oh, there’s the promise…but I like cold, hard fact. In epilogue form if necessary. She had started, she was taking steps to becoming whole again, but you don’t get to see that. And yet, I don’t know how that could have been fixed (okay, well, I do, but I didn’t write the series). I mean, at least as the end of HG, we get a brief glimpse at Katniss when she’s kind of put everything back together. Not so with Tally, and that is probably the main reason that I will, eventually, read Extras. Hoping, that I will get some sort of resolution. Just an inkling. Or just a smudgling?

But other than that, I suppose I did like it. You won’t find me singing over it. But it IS good writing and it does have a very good story with some very good observations of society and being who you are. So yes, I would say that you should read it. Because I probably will, again.

This is a good example of:

  • Creating a society
  • Creating a distinctive vocabulary
  • Character building
  • Plot twist
  • Writing for YA
  • Merging theme and plot

This book is on my recommended reading list.