Extras: Uglies Quartet, Book 4

Common Sense Media says

A great way to discuss fame and tech obsessions with teens.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Tech-savvy teens will find plenty to talk about in this volume of the series especially. What with personal hovercams that no one can live without and "kickers" who publish blog-like posts in a heartbeat, skintennas that make it easy to ping anyone anytime, and more. Also, Aya's city is a "reputation economy," giving the people with the most celebrity the best of everything. This also leads to great discussion points. Get more discussion ideas the "What to Talk About" section of this review.

Positive messages

The dust jacket tagline says, "where fame, popularity, and celebrity rule." In a mostly humorous way, the book shows how a society that overvalues these things can get out of control. Also, there's a lot of talk about honesty: the difference between "radical honesty" -- something one character practices -- slanting the truth, and lying to others knowing it will lead them to bigger truths.

Positive role models

Aya is addicted to both her technology -- she can't go anywhere without her hovercam -- and the idea of being famous, even if it means lying to friends to achieve fame. She refocuses her ambitions for a while to play heroine and does learn some of the drawbacks of fame (like she does not have a moment to herself), but she's still willing to do what it takes to stay famous. Her relationship with Frizz, who practices "radical honesty" thanks to elective brain surgery, does help her rethink the lying, but she's still a product of her reputation- and tech-crazed society.

Violence

Daredevil girls hitch rides on speeding trains and go parachuting. Monkey-like creatures give chase in hovercars, pierce victims with needles on their fingers, and kidnap teens. It's thought that a hollowed mountain contains secret missles ready to blow up the world.

Sex

A few kisses.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some underage drinking at a parties and a quick mention that one clique has started growing and smoking tobacco.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this last book in the Uglies series is a great way to discuss celebrity and technology obsessions with teens. The main character, Aya, can't live without her hovercam and is desperately trying to get famous, even if she has to step on some toes and lie her way there. She joins up with a group of daredevil girls who hitch rides on fast trains and parachute and has some run-ins with needle-wielding creatures, but for the most part the violence is the mildest in the series.

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

What's the story?

Aya is dying to \"kick\" an amazing story and become famous. Unfortunately she's only 15, still an \"ugly\" (no pretty surgery until 16) and living in a fame-obsessed city that thinks of her as a total nobody, an extra -- her superlow \"face rank\" proves it. She knows she can get people to listen when she infiltrates the underground Sly Girls group. No one thinks they really exist because they actually try to stay off the grid, but Aya's ready to change that. She lies to them and even risks her life jumping on high-speed trains to gain their trust. But in a train tunnel is where she uncovers an even bigger story, something that she's sure proves that her peaceful world is ready to fall apart at any moment. She just hopes her hidden hovercam has given her enough proof to help her save the world ... and raise her face rank through the roof in the process.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

For an extra book in what was supposed to be a trilogy, this doesn't feel like a cheap add-on. EXTRAS presents readers with another city within Westerfeld's futuristic world, after everyone's minds are freed, to see what can happen. Crazy body modifications, cliques, cults, and a fascinating "reputation economy" happen. A form of blogging on hovercams happens. And there's the main character's boyfriend Frizz who altered his brain so he can never lie. Frizz and the off-the-grid Sly Girls help keep Aya in line. And Aya seems like what would happen to many of us in this society: recognition will get us that amazing apartment and all the tech toys we could dream of, so it's fame at all costs.

Unfortunately once readers are all caught up in this fun tech-y world it seems like the author suddenly remembers he's supposed to end the series here. Extras' heated conspiracy theory fizzles out and everything wraps up way too neatly. Even though fans will wish for a better series send-off, there's plenty to capture their attention -- and to think about later.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about celebrity. Do you think Aya's "reputation economy" is a good idea? Are there similarities between Aya's society and our own?

  • Families can also talk about media overload. Aya's hovercam is like a friend and a blogging tool -- and a way to record and preserve every moment. She's in a panic without it. Do you have any technology you rely on? Do you think you'd ever rely on something that much?

  • What did readers think of the Uglies series as a whole? Could the author have kept it going or is it better to end it here? Did you like Aya as a main character as much as Tally, the main character from the first three books?

Book details

Author:Scott Westerfeld
Genre:Science Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon Pulse
Publication date:October 2, 2007
Number of pages:416
Read aloud:12 - 17
Read alone:12 - 17

This review of Extras: Uglies Quartet, Book 4 was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 14 years old Written byFancyReality August 19, 2011
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Horrible Book

Basically, Scott Westerfeld wrote 3 amazing books then for some insane reason he decides to taint the Amazing series with this piece of trash!! I couldn't get past the middle of the book; it was that boring.
Teen, 17 years old Written byPride and Prejudice March 7, 2015
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Not a necessary installment in the series.

Extras follows a different main character which is something I did not realize when I decided to read it. I was disappointed enough about the main character switch that I had trouble really enjoying the story. I found I just didn't care as much about the new character. It was still a well written and thoughtful book. I just didn't find it necessary to read after having read the first three in the Uglies series.
Teen, 14 years old Written byelectric ella July 13, 2012
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

A thought-provoking story about obsessions with technology

This book started fairly slowly for me. I couldn't get into the story until the main character shut up about how much she wanted to be famous! The main character is a "Kicker", someone who has her own news feed and tries to become famous by "Kicking" (promoting) other people's trends. The story really kicks off when the main character, Aya, finds a clique of girls who don't want to be famous, but they do crazy stunts in secret all the time. So, Aya pretends to be one of the clique, getting spy cameras so she she has proof for her news feed. She betrays the girls, making them famous, but they understand and let her do it, because on one of their stunt journeys riding on a mag-lev train, they come across a secretive plan that could potentially destroy civilization and they believe that saving the world is worth letting Aya betray them. The story does manage to revive Aya's character, because she does find out the truth in the end. But along the way, she does make some bad choices and meets people who make terrible choices. I think the writer has done that deliberately, because it makes good reading, but it is not a great example of good role models. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others who like science fiction, romance and adventure. It is a great read, well written and has some interesting points about our society.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass