Specials by Scott Westerfeld: A-

From the front flap:
“Special Circumstances.” 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.

Specials is big on story and premise, small on emotional impact. The chief fault of this series (characterization) hasn’t changed. Tally’s in a constant state of flux: she’s this, she’s that, she thinks this, she thinks that, she feels this, she feels that. One can’t really identify with a protagonist whose true nature is so hard to pin down.

The plot and the setting, however, made this an enjoyable read. I was surprised by the direction of the story on a couple of occasions, and though Tally’s ultimate fate is a little odd, it also kind of brings things full circle, so I’m okay with it.

Ultimately, I’d recommend the series, but as a library selection. At this time, I don’t intend to purchase my own copies to have on hand, which I usually do with true keepers.

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