Tally is Ugly. She will be Ugly until she turns 16, when the government of the futuristic world she lives in will turn her Pretty. And Tally is completely alright with that. She feels like she is the last of her friends that has not yet turned 16 and is thrilled to be Pretty in just a few short weeks. It is the only life she has ever known until she meets Shay. Shay is also 15 and sharing the same birthday as Tally, will be made Pretty at the same time, unless she runs away. Shay does not want to be made Pretty, as she believes that life as an Ugly would be more pure and free than to be made into a person that is exactly the same as everyone else. She tries to convince Tally to run away with her, to a village called the Smoke, where other Uglies live their lives in peace, without surgeries. When Tally refuses and is then asked to betray Shay and inform the leaders of the city as to where she has gone or never be made into a Pretty, Tally needs to decide what is more important: friendship or becoming what she has always dreamed of.
This book was fantastic and of a completely different level than anything I've read in a very long time. The underlying metaphors about being unique or becoming like everyone else are very strong, but in a way that is not blatant or in-your-face. Westerfeld created characters that are just like teens today, with strong feelings, interest in the opposite sex, and the yearning to be popular, but allowed the plot to take these characters into realms previously unknown, just as teenagers often face the unknown in their daily lives, often choosing to take the path that everyone else takes. I can certainly see how everyone seems to love this series and I cannot wait to get to the 2nd in the trilogy, Pretties. Thanks to all of the bloggers that reviewed this book and drew me to it. I knew I would enjoy it, but didn't know how much!