Extras review

Book: Extras
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 rating-3/5
My next review will be of Sophie McKenzie’s new book Split Second.

Specials Book review

Book: Specials

Author: Scott Westerfeld

This is my third book review-I discovered this book series this year when a friend of mine got me the first book for my birthday and I wasn’t expecting to like it but I really have loved this series of books-it’s kind of like the hunger games but these books were published years before the hunger games. Here’s a short synopsis of the book:

“Special Circumstances”…the words have sent chills down Tally’s spine since her days as a repellent, rebellious Ugly. Back then, the Specials were a sinister rumour – frighteningly beautiful, dangerously strong, and breathtakingly fast. And now Tally’s become one of them: a super-amped fighting machine, engineered to keep the Uglies down and the Pretties stupid. But one tiny corner of Tally’s heart still remembers something different. When she is ordered to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke, she is forced to make one last choice: carry out the mission she’s been programmed to complete, or listen to that faint yet persistent heartbeat telling her that something’s wrong…

Okay I’m not going to give too much away about the book but I will explain a little about the premise behind it. Basically it’s in a future dystopian America hundreds of years after the Rusties (supposedly our society) destroyed the world. The world is split into small cities and people are segregated according to age-until the age of 11 you are a littlie and live with their parents, 12-15 you live in a dorm with other “uglies” and from the age of 16 onwards you are a “pretty” and live with other pretties (new, middle or late depending on your age)-at the age of 16 all uglies undergo a huge cosmetic surgery operation which changes you into a brainless pretty-the operation changes your mind as well as your body.

This book is great, the plot is fast paced and the characters are well developed. The specials of the title are special circumstances-a special type of “cruel pretty” who are basically superhumans. I have to admit Dr Cable (the puppet master of the book) is a very well rounded character-you hate her but at the same time at the end of the series you almost feel sorry for her.
Tally is a flawed character-she’s incredibly selfish and egocentric at times but there is something incredibly human about her-she’s a girl who feels like she’s being controlled by everyone around her and even though she seems selfish, I think it’s just her way of trying to be who she is. Shay on the other hand, I’m not so fond of, she’s always jealous of Tally and she’s a very disturbed character but incredibly well written and she’s definitely a three dimensional character.

Tally’s personality does seem to change in this book-she’s always fighting to be free but she doesn’t seem to as much this book, actually she can be a little infuriating at times but you still manage to root for her somehow-you always want her to escape from her mental wiring and beat the city. I don’t see why he decided to resolve the Zane/Tally/David love triangle the way he did though-she had pretty much decided to be with Zane but I knew she’d end up with David-an ugly from the Smoke-the Smoke is a place where the uglies run away to if they don’t want to become pretty. However the personality change may be due to her special rewiring-being special also changes your brain but instead of being a bubbleheaded pretty you become violent with a huge superiority complex.

Another city is seen in this book and it’s quite interesting how that city Diego contrasts with Tally’s city-Diego is very free whereas Tally’s city is strictly controlled however Diego is expanding out into the wild to make room for all the runaways.
Specials is an action packed book-I seriously wish hoverboarding was something you could actually do because they spend a lot of time on hoverboards in this series and it sounds like so much fun.
This book is incredible because it shows the vainness of our modern society and the pressure on people to look beautiful. It also shows the way societies can manipulate people-the city almost seems like a dictatorship, the way all the pretties and even the specials are brainwashed-although even the smoke who are supposedly the good guys still manipulate people’s minds-albeit Maddy (David’s mother) develops a cure for both bubble and special headedness but she’s still changing people’s minds and it’s hard to tell actually who the bad guys are. The gadgets in these books are awesome-sneak suits which camouflage you-how cool would that be if it was real?! This book is a great book and well worth the read-you need to read the two previous books Uglies and Pretties first though. There is also mention of cutting in this book so definitely not recommended for under 13’s.
My Rating-4/5
If you have any questions leave them below. My next review will be Son of Black Beauty-Phyllis Briggs