Uglies by Scott Westerfeld: B-

From the back cover:
In the not-so-distant future, Tally Youngblood is quickly approaching her 16th birthday and the mandatory pretty-making surgery that accompanies it. But when Tally’s best friend Shay refuses the surgery and runs away to the Smoke, Tally must choose between friendship and beauty.

When a top-secret organization forces Tally to spy on the rebels of the Smoke—or risk being an Ugly forever—she reluctantly gives in. As the rebels befriend her, she learns that the pretty-making surgery may change more than just her looks. The people of the Smoke are working on a cure. But they need someone to become Pretty to find out if it works.

Uglies reminds me of Feed, with futuristic teens (encouraged to party rather than think) and new slang and gadgetry. Oh, and lesions.

Tally and Shay are friends who get up to various tricks and go exploring and stuff. Tally is gung-ho to become Pretty, but Shay is not enthusiastic. After Shay runs off to avoid the surgery, Tally is drafted to track her down and help the government round up the rebels.

After an extremely boring travel segment (who believes that an imperiled heroine will really die less than halfway through the book?), Tally arrives at her destination. Once there, she feels kinship with the rebels and is completely annoying by not just coming out with the truth and getting it over with. More stupidity—and rationalization for not confessing—follows, and I didn’t like that so much of the plot hinged on the protagonist being a moron.

I’m not sure what to make of this series. The characters are kind of flat. Part of the problem might’ve been with the narrator of the audiobook, who imbued Tally’s friends with dry, nasal voices that made them sound stoned or whiny. Some plotting elements annoyed me and more than once my attention drifted. I probably liked the futuristic setting enough to continue on to the next book, at least.

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