Specials (The Uglies)
by Scott Westerfeld
Published 2006, Simon & Schuster
Paperback, 372 pages
The words have sent chills down Tally's spine since her days as a repellent, rebellious ugly. Back then Specials were a sinister rumor -- frighteningly beautiful, dangerously strong, breathtakingly fast. Ordinary pretties might live their whole lives without meeting a Special. But Tally's never been ordinary.
And now she's been turned into one of them: a superamped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid.
The strength, the speed, and the clarity and focus of her thinking feel better than anything Tally can remember. Most of the time. One tiny corner of her heart still remembers something more.
Still, it's easy to tune that out -- until Tally's offered a chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat, or carry out the mission she's programmed to complete. Either way, Tally's world will never be the same."
I loved this book and thought it was the best of the trilogy. The excitement of Tally and Shay's destruction of the Armory, Tally helping to defend Diego from attack, and other scenes - written so well that I could almost feel the adrenaline pumping through my own veins. The feel and speed of the book had a cinematic quality. I imagine Westerfeld wrote in this style on purpose to capture the style of the Specials, just as the second book had an "airhead" style of writing. The vocabulary also reflects the subculture of the Specials with words such as icy, which indicates the state of being clear-headed. I was saddened by Zane's death and disappointed that Tally could not have had more of a good-bye with him before he died, but I did like that she was reunited with David. I'm rather split as to which boyfriend of hers I prefered, since Zane and David are both very different and compliment Tally in different ways. Fortunately, Westerfeld made that decision for me.
The small glimpse I am given of the city of Diego has me thirsting for more, which I know I can look forward to in the fourth book Extras. I also hope that this book accounts for the lack of attention given to the protection of the wild in Specials.
The Cover: Done in the same style as the previous two titles, the head shot bears some of the tattoo work that all of the Cutters wear, which I think is a very tantalizing image to entice potential readers. Add to that the description of the Specials that the cover gives: "Frighteningly beautiful. Dangerously strong. Breathtakingly fast." I would say it's the best cover of the trilogy.
First Line: "The six hoverboards slipped among the trees with the lightning grace of playing cards thrown flat and spinning."
Beautiful metaphor that really inspires the imagination and accurately captures the nature of the Cutters. I love a good metaphor and Westerfeld is a pro at creating them.
Favorite Quote: "Be careful with the world, or the next time we meet, it might get ugly."
Read For: Support Your Local Library Challenge, Speculative Fiction Challenge, Pages Read Challenge