A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that they will find less violence and more drinking in this second book of the Uglies series. Now that the main character, Tally, has been made a perfect physical specimen like all the other over-16s, she lives in New Pretty Town, where there's lots of drinking and parties. Her friends start to drink less however, and try dangerous stunts -- including cutting themselves -- to counteract the way their minds have been dumbed down after the pretty operation. Tally is disturbed by the cutting, however, and tries a daring escape to get the real cure to her friends.
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What's the story?
"Tally-wa" as our heroine is now called, is suddenly "Pretty," which means she was made into a perfect human specimen like everyone else over 16. After her big operation, she is living large and often intoxicated in New Pretty Town. Because of her exciting past escape to the wilds -- something she barely remembers after the operation robbed her of a fully-functioning brain -- she's a shoe-in for the Crims clique, where all the Pretties who want to pretend they're still "bubbly" (the least brain addled) hang out. Zane, one of the bubbliest Crims, helps Tally find the pills her Ugly friends left her, which could cure her. Only, as the security team closes in, Tally panics and splits the pills with Zane, a move with potentially disastrous results.
Is it any good?
After the cliffhanger at the end of Uglies, readers are bound to have high hopes for PRETTIES; and while there's certainly still plenty to discuss, this one is a little less fresh. Part of the problem is that Tally is in New Pretty Town for so long. It's weeks before Tally and Zane get the pills, motivate their friends, and hatch another escape plan. New Pretty Town is a bit like a futuristic Las Vegas, and while it's fun to gawk and listen to the Pretty-speak for a bit ("Did you see the frost, Zane-la? So icy-making."), but it soon grows thin. Readers may be frustrated by page 200 when the main characters still haven't left the city. Even so, Westerfeld masterfully crafts another jaw-dropping cliffhanger at the end of this installment, which will get readers excited about the series -- especially since the next book, Specials, is named after the city's dreaded security force.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of this series. Why are book about controlling future societies so popular right now, especially with teens?
If you have to choose between being a Pretty or being truly human, which would you choose? What are the pros and cons of each choice? What do you think the author was trying to get teens to think about?