Review of PRETTIES by SCOTT WESTERFELD
(second in the UGLIES series)
If you don't remember what happened in the first book of the UGLIES series...well, hey - neither does Tally! She's pretty now, which as we learned means more than changes to her external appearance; her brain has been tampered with as well, and she grapples to remember recent events as they actually happened.
The premise of this book allows for a natural tension, since it's thick with dramatic irony and "no, don't do that!" moments. For a specific example, Tally kisses another boy, Zane, despite her unresolved situation with David. This twist forces the question, "Does it count as cheating if someone surgically removed the memory of your current boyfriend?" Zane vs. David isn't the only loyalty controversy. Zane vs. Shay is even more pressing when, despite all she's already put Shay through, Tally betrays her friend again by withholding a secret she shares with Zane.
As I mentioned when reviewing UGLIES, I am of the opinion that Tally wouldn't be half as extraordinary without her extraordinary friends. She's content with her new pretty life; it's what she always wanted before Shay came along and confused her. Then Tally meets Zane, and feels an attraction that goes deeper than the usual reaction to a pretty face. Zane encourages Tally to remember, to clear her mind of the imposed fogginess, and to plot an escape from their government regulated fun. Zane takes over Shay's role, in a sense: Tally always wants to accept the rules until someone she respects suggests she reconsider.
This book can be a little slower than UGLIES, because we often find ourselves waiting for Tally to catch on. I mean this as a compliment, though, because the slower pace echoes the enforced changes to Tally's brain. Similarly, UGLIES was full of questions, doubts, and conflicting emotions, which all "uglies" have before the operation takes those petty concerns away.
The ending isn't hard to predict, but nevertheless that conclusion left me eager for the next book. When you realize what's next for Tally, you just know the third book will be intense.