|Series||The Uglies Trilogy|
|Genre||Young adult novel|
|Publication date||May 5, 2005|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
|LC Classification||PZ7.W5197 Pr 2005|
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (September 2009)|
Pretties is a 2005 science fiction novel and the second book of the Uglies Trilogy written by Scott Westerfeld. It is set in a future dystopian world in which everyone is turned "Pretty" by extreme cosmetic surgery upon reaching age 16. It tells the story of teenager Tally Youngblood who rebels against society's enforced conformity.
The book begins with Tally, the protagonist, as a Pretty debating what to wear to a bash. While attending the bash at which she is to be voted into the "Crims" clique, she is followed by someone who appears to be a "Special", a member of Special Circumstances.
Tally can only remember her adventures as an Ugly in brief, disconnected bits because lesions are made on Pretties' brains during the operation. Tally is surprised to discover that the person stalking her is Croy, an old friend of hers from the Smoke. He has something for her, he tells her, but she must search for it later. She agrees, bemused by his repellent ugliness, including his big pores and tangled hair – all the imperfections that the surgery to become a Pretty transforms into beauty.
Tally returns to her care-free life as a Pretty. Her peace is disrupted when Zane, who is the leader of the Crims, asks her about David, whom she loved while she lived in the Smoke.
Zane had once known Croy and had been determined to escape to the Smoke before his surgery. He regrets that he didn't go into the wilderness then. Zane is eager to accompany Tally to find the object Croy has hidden for her. They face strenuous, dangerous physical challenges in order to locate the item, which is accompanied by a letter from Tally to herself, written before she went under the knife. The letter explained to her future self why she had become a Pretty – to take two pills that will cure her from the foggy-headed life of a Pretty.
Zane and Tally learn that the Pretties' brains are altered during their surgery. In the heat of a moment, they decide to each take one pill, which they find clears their minds. From then on, their main goal is to be bubbly. "Bubbly" is the word Pretties use for being themselves and knowing who they really are. They try to help all the Crims stay bubbly. Staying hungry, drinking coffee, and making one's heart race by engaging in physically dangerous or thrilling tricks helps the Crims to stay bubbly. In one such trick, the Crims cause a hovering skating rink to crash above a soccer game. Zane and Tally hope the crash and the media frenzy that follows it will alert the Smokies that they are cured. Soon after, both Zane and Tally's interface rings are replaced by irremovable cuffs, which record and monitor everything they say. Tally is forced to wrap several scarves around her wrist in order to talk freely.
When Shay, who, after becoming bubbly, remembered how Tally betrayed her, questions why Tally is bubblier than the rest of the clique, Tally told Shay about the pills. This makes Shay furious because she wanted Tally to share the pills with her. Shay forms a new clique known as the Cutters, who cut themselves to stay bubbly; basically, their equivalent of self-harm.
Shay's shouting is loud enough to penetrate the barrier of scarves between Tally's cuff and the air, so Tally knows the Specials will become more suspicious of her. Meanwhile Zane is suffering extreme headaches. These headaches get increasingly worse, and Tally believes the only way to help Zane is to find the New Smokies. Zane and Tally plot to find a way to remove the cuffs and escape the city to find the Smokies, along with other Crims via hot air balloons.
Peris, Tally's friend from her Ugly days, decides in the balloon that he does not want to go to the New Smoke. He stalls for Tally, and she falls into a reservation with rather primitive people who seem to be very violent. She is considered a god there because of her beauty. There she meets Andrew Simpson Smith, the village holy man, who is the only one who speaks her language, which they call the language of the gods, with significant fluency. Andrew tries to help her reach the Rusty Ruins, though he says that they are beyond the end of the world. Through their travels, Tally comes to deduce that the villagers are living in a forcefield-protected reservation where Specials and Pretty Scientists conduct experiments about violence and ways to reduce mankind's violent nature. During this time, Tally starts to wonder if Dr. Cable's words to her have some truth - perhaps the Pretty operation that clouds everyone's minds is the only way that humans can live in peace, without destroying each other or the planet.
Tally steals a hovercar from the visiting scientists to escape to the Rusty Ruins. When she calls, she sees someone coming down on a hover board and is shocked to find that it is David who has come to take her to the New Smoke. When she arrives, Maddy tells her that the pills she and Zane took separately were meant to be taken together. The nanos that were supposed to eat away the lesions, but they ate more of Zane’s brain tissue because they needed the pill that Tally took to stop them. Tally, in fact, cured herself, since the pill that she took only stopped nanos; it did not contain nanos itself to heal the lesions.
They soon discover that, when Zane went to the hospital for his headaches, a tracker chip was put in his tooth. Tally decides to stay with Zane instead of escaping with David. David believes that she only loves Zane because he is a Pretty.
To make David leave and not get caught himself, Tally tells him to "get his ugly face out of here". It has the desired result and he flees. She stays with Zane which leads to her getting caught by the Specials. She discovers Shay has been turned into a Special. The book ends with Shay saying 'face it Tally-wa, you're special'.