Author: Scott Westerfeld
This book is technically the last installment in the Uglies series (was originally only meant to be a trilogy). and although the main character is different, you really need to read the first three books to be able to understand the background behind this one. Here’s a short synopsis of the book:
These days it’s all about the fame. As if life isn’t hard enough when you’re fifteen, Aya Fuse’s face rank of 451,369 is so low, she’s a total nobody. An Extra. But when she meets a clique of girls who pull crazy, dangerous tricks in secret, Aya sees a way to get her popularity rating to soar…Aya is sure she’s destined for a life in the spotlight, and if she can just ‘kick’ the story to show everyone how intensely cool the Sly Girls are, then the spotlight will be on her. But is Aya really prepared to be propelled out of Extra-land and into a world of instant fame, celebrity…and extreme danger?
Instead of dystopian America, this book takes place in dystopian Japan, three years after the events of Specials. The main character is a fifteen year old girl called Aya Fuse who is obsessed with becoming famous. Basically everyone has face ranks in her city and the higher your face rank the more famous you are-this story instead of focusing on society’s obsession with beauty, focuses on our obsession with fame but also how the media can twist things-journalism and “truth slanting” are big features of this book-the idea that there are multiple ways to spin one story and the protagonist Aya is a big fan of truth slanting-this however is offset by her love interest in the book Frizz who had a special type of brain surge called Radical honesty-he can only tell the truth and it’s very interesting the dynamic that Westerfeld creates between these two characters, who are essentially complete opposites of each other. I will say though that the story does take a while to get into and only really picks up when Tally and her friends arrive by which point you will already be 2/3 of the way through the book. The main problem that this book has as compared to the uglies trilogy is that the main character Aya is not the most likeable person in the world (in fact I found that I preferred Frizz, her love interest) and she’s insanely attached to her hovercam Moggle which can get incredibly irritating at times. Tally in this book does seem a lot crueller than she was even as a Special but by the end of the book she does feel like the Tally we know and love again and the book does resolve the love story between Tally and David which was not satisfactorily resolved at the end of specials. I didn’t like Aya’s brother Hiro much either, I thought he was quite selfish but I liked his friend Ren-a tech head-I thought he was more like a brother to Aya than her own one was. Having said that I don’t like Aya very much, if I was 15 I probably would find her quite a relatable character as essentially all she’s trying to do is be popular. Mag-lev surfing (which Aya does with the Sly girls) sounds so awesome-Westerfeld has a great talent of making up things that sound like they would be so much fun to try and this book does introduce a lot of new inventions not seen in the uglies trilogy. Extras also resolves the issue of Tally’s friendship with Shay which is also left hanging at the end of specials (as yes Shay makes an appearance). The relationship between Aya and Tally is also interesting as sometimes she looks up to Tally but other times she’s not sure if she can trust her and it is refreshing to see Tally through someone else’s eyes. The thing I love best about these books is that whilst set in a dystopian future, they’re so relatable to our present world. The resolution of the story really surprised me and Westerfeld went in a direction that surprised me…but in a good way. It’s not the best book in the series but it’s good in it’s own way and worth a read.
My next review will be of Sophie McKenzie’s new book Split Second.