Specials by Scott Westerfeld
Just a caution: it is pretty much impossible for this review NOT to be a spoiler for “Uglies” and “Pretties” (which I have also reviewed). If you haven’t read Uglies and are concerned about knowing the ending, please do skip this review.
When Tally is captured at the end of “Pretties,” she is approached by her former friend Shay, who has become one of the Special Circumstances, aka Specials – an elite group who are modified far beyond normal pretties to be stronger, faster, and fiercer than the rest of the populace. At the beginning of “Specials,” we find that Tally has been put under the knife yet again and transformed into a Special. Actually she is a special Special, one of Shay’s band of Cutters whose main purpose is to wipe out New Smoke forever.
In some ways this was my favorite book in the series (which I read over the course of 5 or 6 days, by the way). In addition to the themes Westerfeld broaches in “Uglies” and “Pretties,” “Specials” also addresses the issues of giving up power and freedom in return for security. I simply love that you can read this as a young adult fantasy novel, a dystopian novel, or as thinly veiled social commentary, it works no matter what. Yes, I am aware that dytopian works by their nature must include social commentary, but the “Uglies” trilogy looks not only at where we might go if things continue to progress, but where we are right now.
Seriously, this is some of the best young adult literature I’ve read in awhile. I know it is popular, but this is much more deserving than Twilight to be the runaway blockbuster series. It is engaging, smart, and doesn’t include borderline-abusive relationships with shimmery vampires. Go ahead. Start with Uglies. If you aren’t sure about it, get the books from the library, but I would recommend getting all of them at once because once you finish one, you won’t want to wait for the next one.