By Scott Westerfeld.
I was recently reading a book of collected essays, speeches and lectures by Flannery O'Connor. Unfortunately, because I'm such a slow reader, I had to return it before I finished, but she still made some good points. One was this: sometimes writers have to use the grotesque in order to show reality to the reader. We have a filter of familiarity, where we accept things that we're used to, but by exaggerating them writers can get past this and make us think about what the truth actually is. The other thing she said is that we, as humans, need to see changes in a story, specifically redemption. The sacrifice of one's own life for another has a deep impact. I think both of these points are highly relevant to Scott Westerfeld's story.
Tally Youngblood lives in a world where everyone is born ugly. When they turn 16, they're born again into a perfectly pretty body, with pretty teeth, pretty hair, a pretty face, and a perfect life where all they have to do is enjoy themselves. What could possibly be wrong with that? Read the book and find out.
There are some painful moments where you, the reader, will want to yell "No, don't do that!" (At least, I did.) In fact, I sort of skipped to the end and read backwards because of it. The science in service of a few action scenes might be a little sketchy (*cough*hoverboards*cough*). Still, because of the issues he deals with and especially because of the ending, I think the rest of the trilogy is worth reading. Onward and upward...