Tally lives in a world where your sixteenth birthday brings aesthetic perfection: an operation which erases all your flaws, transforming you from an 'Ugly' into a 'Pretty'. She is on the eve of this important event, and cannot wait for her life to change. As well as guaranteeing supermodel looks, life as a Pretty seems to revolve around having a good time. But then she meets Shay, who is also fifteen - but with a very different outlook on life. Shay isn't sure she wants to be Pretty and plans to escape to a community in the forest - the Rusty Ruins - where Uglies go to escape ' turning'. Tally won't be persuaded to join her, as this would involve sacrificing everything she's ever wanted for a lot of uncertainty. When she is taken in for questioning on her birthday, however, Tally gets sent to the Ruins anyway - against her will. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she could ever imagine: find her friend Shay and turn her in, or never turn Pretty at all. What she discovers in the Ruins reveals that there is nothing 'pretty' about the transformations... And the choice Tally makes will change her world forever.
At 16, every person in Uglyville gets an extreme makeover to make them a Pretty-perfect, beautiful, no responsibilities, partying all the time and looking down their nose at the Uglies, even Uglies that used to be their friends. Tally's birthday is getting closer and she is anxious to get the operation and join her Pretty friends. But her new friend Shay does not want to be Pretty and runs away to a secret community of free Uglies. Tally does not want to betray her friend, but she is told that unless she finds Shay and the other Uglies, she will never be allowed to become a Pretty.
The first look at New Pretty Town would have convinced me that I never wanted to live in a drunken party zone with a bunch of vacant airheads so I'm with Shay. Peris and his friends are so annoying and useless and you want to shake Tally for not seeing them for what they really are. Tally herself was a bit annoying with her horror of anything not Pretty and her constant comments about how ugly she thinks Shay is. Gradually she does improve as a character as she settles into the new community and starts to see the world in a different light. She starts to understand that being Pretty has its price and that Uglies have their own beauty. I liked the Ugly community though I feel that the characters were all a bit under-developed. For me there was too much emphasis on Tally and David, where I would like to see more of Croy and Shay and the others. I'm assuming this might happen in later books.
I like the short chapters, the plot and the whole idea of these two different societies. It's an interesting if frightening future that came around because of all the trouble caused by people looking different. Tally mentions that the colour of skin led to fighting and trouble and that society is better now that everyone is equally Pretty. What a scary solution to the issue of racism and not a future that I'd ever want to see.
This book was hard to rate and 2.5 is more accurate. There were bits that I liked but on the whole I regarded it as not quite delivering on the expectations. It was a little slow, dull in areas and underdeveloped in places. There was potential but I never felt it really delivered.