Pretties: Uglies Quartet, Book 2

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Pretties: Uglies Quartet, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Sci-fi series sequel less fresh but still discussion-worthy.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 7 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

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.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


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.


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.


"Hell" and "damn."

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.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBIG FART February 16, 2021


Teen, 13 years old Written bygoodreadsforme! October 3, 2011

Just to clear things up!

Ok, first of all, some kids may not be able to understand this book very well. I am only 12, though a serious bookworm(read the hobbit in 3rd grade). Some peop... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bybook_worm_nerd February 12, 2019


There was only a hint at sex, and hardly any swearing, but it talked a lot about alcohol and hangovers. Other than that, it was a very good book, both emotiona... Continue reading

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? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and adventure

Top advice and articles

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

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate