Apparently The Hunger Games is the gateway drug to dystopian lit. I’m now living in the future and not looking back.
From the back cover:
“Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license–for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.
But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world–and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.”
Tally lives in a post-apocalyptic city where everything is contained, controlled, and isolated. She has spent the past four years in Uglyville and is looking forward to finally joining her best friend Peris in New Pretty Town. Until she meets Shay, that is. Shay shows Tally that there is a world outside of their own, one that is unregulated by the authorities, and when Shay tells Tally that she’s not going to turn pretty, Tally has a tough choice to make.
She can either turn pretty and spend her life devoid of original thought, partying all day and looking gorgeous just like everyone else, or she can escape with Shay and find freedom in the unknown land that lies beyond, called “the Smoke”. But then there’s Peris, waiting for her back in New Pretty Town, and he reminds her of the promise she made to him. The day of Tally’s operation does not go as expected, and Special Circumstances sends her out as a spy to retrieve Shay and the others that escaped.
I really, really enjoyed this book. Not only was I totally engrossed in the plot, I felt really connected to Tally and torn with the decisions she had to make. Westerfeld does a supreme job of building a sci-fi world. I loved how he made connections to contemporary society (i.e. the rollercoaster in the Rusty Ruins) and coupled that landscape with the futuristic hoverboards, bungee jackets, and other gadgets. It made the story that much more believable, like Tally’s city was really constructed on top of our world.