This is a summary the book Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Includes Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, themes and values, and conclusion.
Tally Youngblood is just a normal Ugly, who is 15 years old. In the world of Uglies, once one turned 16, he/she could get the “Operation”. The operation would turn any normal person into a “pretty”, who would have a perfect face, a reinforced immune system, and a new body. Anyone normal is an Ugly. Tally is depressed, waiting for her 16th birthday, which is only a few months away, because her best friend, Peris, had had the operation already and was living in “New Pretty Town”, where new pretties went. Uglies were not allowed. In New Pretty Town, a pretty’s only job was to have fun. Tally crashes a party in New Pretty Town to see Peris – and ends up jumping off the edge of the building with a bungee jacket. While wardens patrol, trying to find the invader, Tally meets someone new - Shay. Shay and Tally quickly become friends, and Shay teaches Tally how to hoverboard. They both have the same birthday – so everything is looking perfect.
A week before the operation, Shay confesses to Tally that she does not want the operation. She wants to go to a place called the Smoke, where they didn’t get the operation, and lived out in the wild. Tally refuses to go, and Shay leaves – never to come back. She leaves Tally a letter in case Tally ever wanted to come, in a code that only Tally could understand. On the day of Tally’s operation, she gets picked up by the city’s authority – Special Circumstances. Most people thought that Special Circumstances was a myth, and didn’t exist. Special Circumstances were humans with huge surgical modifications, they were fast, strong, and had great senses. They tell her that unless she follows the letter to track down the Smoke, she will stay ugly forever. Tally decides that she has to go to betray her friend, and leaves on a hoverboard with 4 weeks worth of food. Special Circumstances had given her a tracker, that could only be activated with her eye print, so it could pass any security tests that the Smoke performed on her. It was disguised as a necklace. She was to activate when she got to the Smoke.
Once Tally arrives at the Smoke, she actually likes it – and doesn’t want to give them away. David, the son of the leaders of the Smoke, meets her and likes her. He takes her to his parents, who were once doctors for the city, and they explain to Tally the truth about pretties. Pretties had lesions put into their brains during the operation, to keep them happy, but mainly to keep them from getting wild ideas. Pretties didn’t like action, fighting, or new things. Once Tally finds out about this, she wants to live there for the rest of her life, away from the city. One day, at midnight, she was taking a walk with David, and he mentioned her necklace (the tracker). He asked her if she had liked anyone else in the city. She told him no by throwing the necklace in to the flames, partly to free herself from ever giving the Smoke away. She did not know that if the necklace was damaged, that it would also activate.
Special Circumstances came a day after Tally accidentally activated the tracker. They captured everyone, found Tally, and congratulated her on helping them find the Smoke at last. Tally hates it, but goes along with the Special Circumstances. They take her to their leader, Dr. Cable, who had assigned Tally to this mission in the first place. Dr. Cable asks Tally to go find the tracker, accompanied by a Special. Tally claims that she had hid the tracker on the roof, and while climbing onto the roof, she tripped onto the Special twice. All of the Smoke’s hoverboards were on the roof, so Tally snapped her fingers, making one lift up, knocking the Special over, and flew away. She found David in the cave; they were the only two that hadn’t been captured. Tally and David decide to try to rescue everyone. Since Tally had been in the Special Circumstances building before, she knew the way there, and assumed that the prisoners were kept in the basement. When they got to the basement, they saw a pretty talking with Dr. Cable. David came up behind Dr. Cable and knocked her out. They then found out that the pretty was Shay, who had been unwillingly transformed; but of course she did not know that now, because her brain had been modified. David and Tally gather up everyone, and get away with Specials chasing them. They all hide in the mountain.
The Smokies camp out at a good spot in the mountain. On their way out of Special Circumstances, Maddy, David’s mom, had stolen Dr. Cables phone. The phone contained valuable information about how pretties were made. Being a doctor, Maddy thought that she could make a cure for the lesions in a pretty’s brain. She just needed a person, a pretty, who gave informed consent to test the cure. Tally decided to test it on herself; and the book ends with her becoming a pretty.
Themes and Values
One of the main lessons to be taken from this book is that there are certain things in technology that we do not want to happen. The operation may have been good in some ways; it made people happy, controlled politics, and stopped fighting, but it also took away free will. Another lesson is that looks are not everything. Would you rather be a pretty with no mind to think, or normal, with your mind?