In this dystopian society, children can’t wait to turn 16, the age at which they undergo radical cosmetic surgery turning them forever into a Pretty. In the meantime, the Uglies, what they even call themselves, live in dormitories where they are lightly schooled and enjoy the technological conveniences or their day like hoverboards and smart walls that produce almost anything they want or need.
Two young women, only weeks before their 16th birthdays, begin to discuss a renegade colony they have heard about called The Smoke. This is a settlement where people have resisted the surgical transformation and reconnected with the ancient lifestyle of the Rusties, their ancestors who were nonrenewable energy dependent and eventually reached the end of their civilization.
The girls make it to The Smoke, but once there, learn that the surgery alters more than a person’s looks. It seems that lesions are created in the brain limiting the thinking capacity of humans and causing them to be placated by a life of pleasantness and parties.
A great adventure ensues with some of the Smokies attempting to rescue their own from surgery forced upon them by the secret police. The ending is just a set up for the next book, but I would be happy to continue in this story.
The book is leveled at Z, but the lexile level is 770, making it readable for most 7th graders. This is a good dystopian/science fiction story for students who prefer more of an adventure and don’t like getting too creeped out.
There are good conversations to be made around choices of beauty vs. individuality and free will.