Pretties is Book 2 of the dystopic young adult series set three hundred years in the future that begins with Uglies. Upon finishing Book 1, I enthusiastically jumped right into Book 2. I think Book 2 would have been very difficult to read, however, without having read Book 1 first. Furthermore, it is impossible to talk about Book 2 without giving away the end of Book 1. So if you intend to read the series, start with Uglies and read here no more! (Or skip to the Evaluation: it is free of spoilers.)
At the beginning of Pretties, 16-year-old Tally Youngblood has been a Pretty for about a month, and is fully into the lifestyle of parties followed by hangovers. The only mystery in life is what clique will accept you. This is a far cry from her life as an Ugly, when everyone looked “natural,” which is to say, repulsive. Upon turning sixteen, however, one undergoes surgery to be Pretty and can then move from Uglyville into Pretty Town.
Tally is overjoyed to get accepted into the Crims clique – one intended for the more outré of the Pretties, and the one to which her friends Shay and Peris from back in ugly days belong. Soon she is also being courted by Zane, the head Crim, much to the chagrin of Shay, who was interested in Zane. In fact, back in their ugly days, Tally attracted another guy that Shay had liked; it will be only a matter of time until Shay’s resentment boils over into something concrete.
Meanwhile, Tally is secretly contacted by Croy, a friend Tally can barely remember (getting Pretty also changes your brain) from back in her rebellious time as an ugly. He gives her some pills that he says will “cure” her from the Pretty surgery-inflicted brain changes, along with a letter Tally wrote to herself back as an Ugly. This letter, anticipating Tally’s surgery-induced vapidity and vanity, is meant to convince her that she had intended to take the pills all along. Tally isn’t sure, however, but Zane wants to take the pills. Instead of Tally taking both, she splits them with Zane, and they each take one. It never occurs to Tally that the reason Croy gave her two is that they interact, and both are necessary.
Once again, Tally escapes, this time with Zane and some other Crims. She again encounters her first love, David, but to her he now appears ugly. Has she really been cured? And what’s wrong with Zane? And why is it, no matter where she goes, the Pretty Town security department, Special Circumstances, manages to be able to track her down?
Evaluation: This second book in the series also keeps you up late reading, and ends with a cliffhanger that will send you scurrying for the next book in the series. I’m thoroughly enjoying these descents into Westerfeld’s dystopia!
Published by Simon Pulse, 2005