Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple
Westerfeld, Scott.
New York : Simon Pulse, 2005.
ISBN 0689865384

(7 booktalks)

Click on the book to read Amazon reviews
Booktalk #1

What if you were given the opportunity to change your looks.  Would you do it?  What if you had no choice?  For Tally, it is just a few short months until her 16th birthday.  Only a few short months of being an Ugly.  She knows that on her birthday, she will become a Pretty and move from Uglyville to the nice apartments for the New Pretties.  Where there is never ending fun.  Where the parties never stop.  She has never really imagined that she had a choice.  Until she meets Shay.  Shay tells her about a place where you don't have to become a Pretty.  Where you can remain your own unique self.  But it is forbidden to go there.  Tally doesn't really believe Shay and refuses to leave with her.  But when Tally arrives for her operation, she is told that she will not be operated on until after she betrays her friend and leads the Specials to the Smoke.  What choice does she have?  She certainly doesn't want to remain an Ugly forever.  Would you?

Booktalk #2

Tally was so anxious to turn Pretty that she just couldn't wait. So, she snuck into New Pretty Town to see Peris even though she had another two months before she turned 16 and would be turned into a Pretty. She ended up creating a scene and having to hide out before she could return, but in the process met Shay who became her best friend. In fact, they shared the same birthday and so would turn Pretty together.

Except, Shay wanted to stay Ugly, and tried to get Tally to join her with a rebel group of Uglies who had run away from the cities and lived on their own at a place called the Smoke. Things weren’t provided for them. They actually had to WORK for their essential needs. Shay tried to convince Tally to come with her, and when Tally refused, Tally left a note with cryptic directions for Shay to follow if she changed her mind.

When Tally’s birthday came, however, she was taken to Special Circumstances and told that she would never turn Pretty unless she found the Smoke and turned on a beacon that would lead Special Circumstances forces their to force the Uglies back into the city to become Pretties.

Tally felt bad about it, but also felt she had no choice. Finally, she gave in and followed the instructions from Shay and found the Smoke where the Uglies lived. There she met David, who was born at the Smoke, and his parents who had been Doctors as Pretties but had fled to the Smoke and resorted to Ugly status.

Then David’s parents told her the reason that they had fled the city . . . the same reason that Special Circumstances didn’t want any Uglies living on their own separate from the cities.

A first book in a trilogy, Uglies introduces us to a world where perfection is only a surgery away.

Tally is so excited for her 16th birthday. Her best friend Peris had his birthday a few months earlier and she can’t wait to see him again. You see, on one’s 16th birthday, everyone in Tally’s world turns into a Pretty and enters a new realm of parties, happiness, and fun. Ugly people just are not allowed to be in this realm and so Tally is counting the days until she can join her friends and family.

But Tally is not a patient girl. After sneaking in to see Peris in his new home, she barely manages to escape detection on her way out. She does, however, meet a new friend along the way. Shay too is awaiting her 16th birthday, but unlike Tally, she doesn’t want to become pretty. As the girls become better friends, Tally learns of a place where people choose to live the old-fashioned way without surgical enhancement.

When Shay runs off to join this community, the government’s Special Cirumstances comes in to ask Tally to either betray her friend or lose her chance at prettiness forever. After she agrees to go find her friend and turn her in, Tally travels to the Smoke and meets people who will teach her about friendship, loyalty, and the dangers of being a Pretty. With Special Circumstances on her tail, Tally must ultimately make some tough choices that will affect the rest of her life.    (Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award Nominees 2007-2008)

Booktalk #3

In this futuristic society, young people believe they are ugly until, at age 16, they undergo an operation that changes them into "pretties." Tally Youngblood looks forward to turning 16 until she meets another female named Shay who questions this way of life and urges Tally to defect to a distant settlement of simple living. When Shay disappears, Tally is coerced by cruel Dr. Cable to find Shay and her patriots or stay "ugly" forever.  (Florida Teen Reads nominee, 2007-2008)

Booktalk #4

Tally Youngblood is a few weeks away from her 16th birthday, and she can’t wait to become a “Pretty.” In Tally’s world, at age sixteen she can leave Uglyville and join her best friend Peris, a “Pretty,” in New Pretty Town, city of non-stop partying. But first, she has to undergo the surgery that all sixteen-year-olds undergo. The problem is her new best friend, Shay, is not sure she really wants to conform to the norm and become a “Pretty.” Shay is quite happy with the way she looks and tries to convince Tally to sneak away to a forbidden area where it is rumored people who have refused surgery have formed a new community, remaining as “uglies.” When Tally’s long-anticipated operation day arrives, she is confronted with the frightening Special Circumstances team who want her to find Shay. Her life takes an unexpected turn when she is told she must find Shay or she will not be allowed to undergo her own surgery. Tally goes after Shay, and in the process, finds out there is more to being a “pretty” than just having surgery. (Prepared By: Mary M. Silgals, Trident Academy for SCASL Young Adult Awards, 2008)

Booktalk #5

Tally Youngblood is almost 16 and waiting for her birthday when she can be remade into a "pretty."  In Tally's society, a few hundred years from now, when someone turns 16 they are put through an operation, making them over completely from head to toe.  (96-97), While spying on new pretties (those who have just turned 16) Tally meets Shay.  Shay has the same birthday as Tally and they hit it off and become best friends almost immediately.  Although a little strange, Shay is adventurous, smart and fun.

She and Tally enjoy their last two months together before the big operation.  One night while designing a 'pretty' face for herself, Tally finds out that Shay has no intentions of becoming a pretty, but instead plans to run away before she can be taken for the operation.  Each night Tally and Shay have been sneaking outside the city to a place called the Rusty Ruins and waiting on some mysterious stranger named David who never seems to show up.  This David is supposed to take those who don't want to become pretties to a new home where they live independently from the city.  The big night comes and goes and after a tearful farewell Shay leaves and Tally is alone again, with only a cryptic note from Shay about how to find her if she decides becoming Pretty isn't for her.

Tally's 16th birthday comes and she is whisked off to the hospital to become pretty.  After waiting an hour in the waiting room, recycling everything she has except for a few personal items (after all she will have all new things once she's in new pretty town and none of her old stuff will fit anyway) she meets a new type of pretty, one who's features are anything but serene and patient, like other middle pretties she's seen.  This one is Special, he's cold, commanding, and unlike any of the other pretties.  He leads her to a place that isn't supposed to exist and yet there she is at the headquarters of Special Circumstances.  She finds another special waiting for her, this one even scarier than the last, she is told to call this one Dr. Cable.

Tally learns that Shay's escape has cost her more than just shed tears, but also her chance at becoming pretty.  Unless she tattles on Shay she will be an Ugly forever.  At first she refuses, she made a promise to Shay to keep quiet, but as the days wear on and she receives visits from first her parents, then her longtime best friend (and now pretty) Peris, she caves and agrees to do what the Specials want, after all she did promise Peris before Shay that she would be with him in New Pretty Town soon.  Tally is sent out into the wild to find the elusive Smoke, the town where the uglies are hiding.  After almost falling over cliffs, almost being burned to death, and freezing she finally finds the smoke, and learns more about life outside the city and also about what really goes on in her perfect city, (read last page of the secret chapter pg 261?)  There is something more done when the big operation happens.  Find out what it is and if Tally turns in her new friends to the specials.   Will she and Shay become Pretty?  Who is David and what does he stand for, good or bad?  This is the first in a four book series.    (Della Phipps, librarian,

Booktalk #6

Tally is a soon-to-be sixteen-year-old on Earth three hundred years in the future. She meets Shay, who shares the same birthday. In Tallie’s world everyone from age 12 to 15 is an Ugly. It won’t be long until Shay and Tallie get to have their Pretty operation where they will have perfect features, perfect skin and perfect bodies and they get to live at the party tower with all the new Pretties. Tally can’t wait, but in the meantime there is fun to be had sneaking out at night and hoverboarding to the abandoned Rusties city. Shay tells Tally of a secret city, called the Smokies, where she plans to run away. Shay is not interested in the operation and would rather keep her own face, flaws and all. On the day of Tally’s operation, she is shocked to find out that she cannot become Pretty until she finds Shay and the Smokies.

Uglies is a thrilling look at a utopia with an edgy undertone.   (Melissa Bowman,, Armstrong Middle School,  Lone Star Book Award nominee, 2006-2007)

Booktalk #7

In three months, Tally will become pretty. In her world, everyone is an “ugly” until they turn 16 and are officially transformed into a “pretty” through surgery. It’s supposed to be the best time of Tally’s life, but things change when she meets Shay. Shay raises questions that are forbidden.  Why can’t society accept them for who they are? Are they really freaks if they remain uglies? Why does everyone have to look the same? Although Tally is shaken by her encounter with Shay, she still looks forward to her chance to join the pretties. But now it is not clear if her chance will ever come. She is given orders to spy on Shay after she runs away to the Smoke – a secret place where everyone lives together in freedom, where there are no uglies and no pretties. Struggling with her future and what is right, Tally learns that what she finds in the Smoke may actually change things for good.  (Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Awards Program, 2009-2010)

SUBJECTS:     Beauty, Personal -- Fiction.
                        Science fiction.
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