Uglies

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Publication Information
Author(s): Scott Westerfield  
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: June 26, 2006

Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian Literature

Reading Level: Moderate

Target Age: 12+

Grade Levels: 7-12

Gender: Male/Female

Description of Novel
This novel is set in a post-apocalyptic future world, where at the age of 16 everyone is given an operation that makes them physically perfect. It follows Tally, a young girl who at the start of the novel is 3 months shy of turning 16, and she just recently lost her best friend to the “pretties’” world. Tally is not 16 yet she still lives in the “uglies’” world because she is still an ugly.

The book, which celebrates beauty above all else, deals with our culture’s current obsession with physical perfection and hedonism. It has many educational values strung throughout it, such as characters who stand up to an oppressive regime, and resist becoming “perfect”, this highlights the importance of individual freedoms are and what people are willing to do for them.

This novel has the potential to start some great discussions in class about what beauty really is, what conformity is, and whether this is a utopia or dystopia. It also addresses the environmental cost of our lifestyle today. It raises issues about what making everyone “pretty” would do to society. Would it lessen discrimination, jealousy, racism, war, etc.

There is not a lot of violence or sex in this novel, and drinking is very minimal. There is also absolutely no language, which is nice to see in a young adult novel.

Cautions
None

Classroom Use
Core Curriculum/Bookshelf – This book has all kinds of opportunities for learning. If it were no I would take out Fahrenheit 451 and put this book in its place. Like I stated before the novel addresses our cultures current obsession with physical perfection and hedonism. It has characters who stand up to an oppressive regime, and resist becoming “perfect”, which highlights the importance of individual freedoms. These are all important concepts to teach in the classroom, not to mention the opportunity that this book presents for discussions on beauty, discrimination, racism, and war. It also has the potential to open up discussions on utopian and dystopian literature, environmental issues, and much more. As a plus it also has little risk when teaching it because there is very little violence, sex, and drinking and there is absolutely no language in it.

Other Suggested Readings
The other novels in the Uglies Quartet

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