A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Specials -- super-humans wired with an impulse problem and a superiority complex -- are essentially dangerous weapons always doing dangerous things like jumping off cliffs, crashing hover boards, and setting off massive explosions. As kind of a clique thing, they also engage in cutting themselves with knives to feel more "icy" (focused and in the moment). This behavior is eventually deemed unhealthy and sworn off by Tally, the main character, who is a positive role model in a number of other ways as well. That makes it almost worse to see Tally endure the death of character close to her, be unjustly imprisoned, and almost go under the knife while (yikes) still awake.
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What's the story?
Tally's not just any Pretty anymore. She's a Special, along with her frenemy, Shay. They're charged with hunting down the city's runaways and, if they're worthy, turning them into more Specials. Tally feels like she finally belongs, but nothing is the same without her boyfriend, Zane, left in New Pretty Town with his damaged brain and tremors after taking the wrong Pretty cure. Maybe if Zane were to run away again, he'd be made Special, too. But Zane's not going anywhere: He's collared like a dog with metal too strong to break without better tools. On impulse, Tally and Shay break into the armory to find the right equipment, unleashing a chain of events that threatens the cure, the runaways, and everything else.
Is it any good?
Way to bounce back -- where Pretties (book 2) was lacking in excitement and plot twists, SPECIALS delivers. Tally is again put to the test mentally, trying to regain her own sense of self after yet another mind-altering operation. But thanks to her body rebuilt for danger, she's also got some truly fast-paced, nail-biting action scenes. It's a good balance of thoughtful and "icy," as the Specials would say.
Westerfeld's future world opens up, too, exploring what happens in a city with more freedoms and an ever-expanding immigrant population. This is the depth the series needed to keep it special -- and expand it into its final installment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Uglies series. Each book describes a controlling future society, a popular theme in many of today's popular books. What's appealing about this idea? How does the society depicted here compare/contrast with other future societies you've read about?
This book was once a trilogy, then turned into a quartet. What do you like about reading book series? Why do you think they're so popular?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love fantasy and science fiction
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