by Scott Westerfeld
Published 2007, Simon & Schuster
Hardback, 417 pages
It's a few years after rebel Tally Youngblood took down the uglies/pretties/specials regime. Without those strict roles and rules, the world is in a complete cultural renaissance. "Tech-heads" flaunt their latest gadgets, "kickers" spread gossip and trends, and "surge monkeys" are hooked on extreme plastic surgery. And it's all monitored on a bazillion different cameras. The world is like a gigantic game of American Idol. Whoever is getting the most buzz gets the most votes. Popularity rules.
As if being fifteen doesn't suck enough, Aya Fuse's rank of 451,369 is so low, she's a total nobody. An extra. But Aya doesn't care; she just wants to lie low with her drone, Moggle. And maybe kick a good story for herself.
Then Aya meets a clique of girls who pull crazy tricks, yet are deeply secretive of it. Aya wants desperately to kick their story, to show everyone how intensely cool the Sly Girls are. But doing so would propel her out of extra-land and into the world of fame, celebrity...and extreme danger. A world she's not prepared for.
I enjoyed this book as an epilogue to the Ugly Trilogy. It resolved the one aspect that I thought was left hanging in Specials, the fate of the planet Earth itself in regards to how the current human race treated it, as opposed to how the Rusties were notorious for destroying it. I liked that I got to see how Tally and the other Cutters were viewed from an outsider with the viewpoint of Aya Fuse. In addition, the reputation economy that Aya lived in was unnervingly familiar to our own Western society of blogging, social networking, computer and television-centered lifestyles. Of the four books, I found this one the most enlightening and original, in the same genre as other dystopian literature. It seeks to reveal the truth through a piece of fiction, or as one character in the book proclaims, "I guess you sometimes have to lie to find the truth."
I did find the resolution that the Extras came up with regarding the protection of the wild to be a bit far-fetched and lacking detail and explanation - it takes much, much more to train for life in outer space than just floating around on zero-gravity attachments. The lightness with which this topic is approached in the novel does not do it justice by any means, but I had to remind myself that this is still a Young Adult novel. At the same time, this concept opens up a whole new plotline that Westerfeld could pursue in the Ugly series, should he want to, which I do appreciate.
The Cover: Done in a similar style as the previous three books in the series, but with a close-up of a face so that the whole face is not showing, the only thing that makes it truly appealing is the techno-enhanced eye. This made me curious about what the eye represents. The girl is also of Asian descent, which gives me somewhat of an idea where the plot takes place, as well as subtly letting me know that the main character is not Tally Youngblood.
First Line: "Moggle," Aya whispered. "You awake?"
It took me awhile to understand that Moggle was a kind of floating camera with A.I. I had to read a bit before I got this, which is a good thing, since it draws me in immediately.
Favorite Quote: "Sometimes, the hardest thing was doing nothing."
Read For: Speculative Fiction Challenge, Pages Read Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge