This is the first in the Scott Westerfeld speculative fiction series, set in a futuristic world whereby everybody undergoes cosmetic surgery at the age of 16 to become a “Pretty”. “Pretties” have no other purpose in life initially other than to have fun. Tally Youngblood can’t wait for the operation, she is the last of her friends to become a “Pretty”.
However, in the final weeks of her fifteenth year, she meets another “Ugly” called Shay, who does not want to become a “Pretty”. Shay runs away – and Tally is told that she will never become a Pretty unless she follows Shay into the wilderness to find the rebels who refuse to have the operation. There, she learns the truth about the operation, which does not only change your physical appearance, but also alters your brain chemistry. You become more pliable and less capable of independent thought.
Westerfeld creates an interesting and well-developed futuristic world that engages readers and leaves them wondering. Tally goes on quite a journey, further documented in Pretties and Specials. Definitely an interesting read.