A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This future society will kick off some great discussions about beauty, conformity, utopia versus dystopia -- and even what kind of technology is needed to hoverboard around town.
The importance of free will is at the center of the characters' struggles. Readers will get the message that while it's much easier to stay empty-headed and enjoy life's little pleasures, it's better to experience excitement, fear, anger, and even jealousy.
Positive Role Models
Tally is less of a warrior in this book, but still remains selfless, willing to test the cure for her pretty brain in order to save more of her friends. She's also brave to take on the Specials on their own turf.
Violence & Scariness
Some bloody injuries and falls from towers and hot-air balloons, and through ice. Some characters cut themselves so they can feel some of these emotions again after the Pretty operation dulls their senses, and there's a description of ritual cutting. A character experiences severe headaches and fears he may be getting brain damage.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Tally and Zane start sleeping in the same room, but nothing beyond kissing and waking up together is ever described. Some innuendo and Tally and Zane visit a pleasure park meant for New Pretty liaisons.
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"Hell" and "damn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
There are lots of champagne parties and hangovers in New Pretty Town. Eventually Tally, Zane, and their friends stop indulging. Vodka is used to collapse an ice rink.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.