I’ve been involved in quite a few lively debates about the minimum wage being raised over six years for fast food workers. One argument against the raise is: “Machines and computers are going to take over everything we do!” But wasn’t that supposed to happen ages ago in… say... 1984? As I sit here this evening trying to pick a book to discuss, I can’t help thinking about Scott Westerfeld’s book Uglies, the first in the series. It was originally published in 2005 so why am I writing about it now? Because there are four more books coming! I have not been this excited for a series to continue in a very long time. I was swept away back and then, and I can't wait to be swept away again.
I love dystopian fantasies and this one has it all. Uglies is set 300 hundred years into the future and the main character is 15 year old Tally. What had me immediately fascinated was the technology used in Tally’s daily life. You can change your eye color with the push of a button. You can add a tattoo under your skin that has wording and changes color. You can open your closet and have a different wardrobe at any time based on the event you’re attending, and you can take your hover board to get there. I know it’s sounding more like a teenage utopia, but it’s not.
At the age of 16, everyone is required to have plastic surgery to make them beautiful; to make them pretty. Once that happens they’re allowed to move from their boring dorm style room and town to a much more fabulous area of the city where everything you could ever possibly need is provided by the government. But what if they don’t want to have the surgery? What if they’re okay with how they look and don’t want to be forced by their government to change? Gasp!
The "foreign" concept of someone being happy with how they actually look resonates all too clearly today, especially in our Instagrammed-filtered society.
That’s why I liked this book and really enjoyed the sequels. We see a 15/16 year old girl not only going against the convention of her society’s idealistic view of what beauty should be, but she fights to stay just as she is. In that struggle she meets a group of like-minded teenagers and Tally becomes a runaway, but in her society, runaways are criminal and need to be hunted down immediately. We can't have anyone disrupting the system and improving themselves on their own, can we? What quickly follows are tests of friendships, internal strength, and a fight against evil government entities.
Technology aside, after social media's feisty arguments, some would argue this is our society today and not one of 300 years from now.
The books in this series by Mr. Westerfeld are:
5. Imposters (New!)
Read them and let me know what you think, or if you already have, what are your thoughts on how it compares to today?
You can order all of them on IndieBound, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Books-A-Million, Apple, and Google Play.