Plot: Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license -- for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.
But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world -- and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever. (Summary from goodreads.com)
My opinion: I struggled somewhat with this novel. It started off rather interesting with Tally's 16th birthday coming up and all what that entails, but until she actually showed up in Smoke, I found the novel somewhat dull and mainly read by obligation. However, as I said, when she shows up in Smoke and comes to realize a thing or two about her life and the society she lives in, I find a new interest. And from that point it's action all the way and I couldn't put the book down.
I have read in many reviews that the MC, Tally, is not a very liked character but rather shallow. And I can agree with that, but I can also see why. She has been brought up thinking in a certain way and expecting her life to move along a certain path. All of this just disappears in front of her and she is forced to throw away everything she ever believed in. When she ultimately does this, that's when I start liking her. Being in Smoke alters not only the way Tally perceives herself but all of the world around her.
In a way, Uglies differ from many other dystopias out there in the sense that the world actually seems like a good place. No wars, no hunger, no poverty. Just a bunch of overly pretty people partying away, and that's why most people in the City don't feel the urge to rebel, because what would they gain? However, there are a few people who have realized the truth about the surgery and chosen another way to live, which is a threat to the Pretty community and must be stopped at all costs...
Uglies is a fast and in many ways though-provoking read, where the obsession with appearances and beauty was an interesting aspect of the novel. It also raises questions about loyalty and friendship, and manages to throw in a little love story in the mix. I enjoyed it and will probably try to get hold of the next book too.