Review: Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

Pretties  - Scott Westerfeld

My hairdresser and I have a strange relationship. I hate her, or rather I hate her work, and she charges me for this privilege. She refuses, point blank to give me what I want and it seems to cost me at least £120 every time I set foot in the salon. She makes me feel guilty for not taking care of my over-processed, over-bleached hair, subtly so as not to be blatantly rude to a customer but I hear that edge in her voice, that irritated, judgemental edge. And yet, I keep going back for more. Why?!! Who knows? Habit maybe, some deep rooted loyalty which I blame on my star sign. Leos are nothing if not loyal. But all I know is I'm never happy when I leave, my hair never looks how I imagined it would. Every six weeks I climb the stairs to the place (it's part of an office complex, downstairs from a psychologists clinic. One day I'm just gonna keep climbing and ask him why the hell I do the things I do) and I ask myself "Why am I back here? Why do I keep paying to be insulted and unsatisfied?!!


And so it is with Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series. I hated the first book. It was stupid and absurd. And yet, here I am again - reading and now reviewing book two, Pretties. And I can tell you my friends, just like my hair salon experience, coming back for more doesn't make it any better. In fact, in the case of Pretties it got worse!


Tally has learned nothing from her time spent dodging adults and betraying her friends in Uglies, and has only used these experiences to become even stupider (who knew that was possible?!!) and more irritating (and who knew that was possible?!!). When a main character is as grating and mind-numbingly dumb as Tally there's not much more that the plot can do to pick up the pieces. I mean, there's an attempt to make the story exciting and informative about "teen issues" but it all falls totally flat because I just want to punch Tally in the face. Repeatedly.


So the story goes that Tally is now pretty and air-headed following the operation to make her as such at the end of Uglies, in order for her to test the cure. She's of course forgotten her promise to do this and so there's a whole lotta to-ing and fro-ing of will she, won't she. She splits the cure with her boyfriend, Zane and nearly kills him in the process. There's a whole bit where she's wandering around the woods with (in her own words) a bunch of "savages". For, uhm .... Some reason. And then she ends up betraying the Smokies again. Urgh. It's all very samey.


It reads very much like a series of pictures glued together. Tally and the gang ice skating and falling into some exploding fireworks. Tally and the gang in a hot air balloon and leaping to, what you would think would be their certain death. Tally and the gang running around and trying to hide from the evil adults. Yawn. It doesn't hang together well and just gets very tedious, very quickly. It's all so wishy-washy. I wanted a little punch, a little spark. But to honest, the whole book might as well have been written in green crayon for all the sophistication it exhibits.


The most disappointing thing is that there is no character development from book one to book two. Pretties is full of exactly the same vacuous, empty-headed, brain-dead characters and goings-on as Uglies was. Literally nothing has moved on. We're left in precisely the same situation as before. So in fact, Pretties was a complete waste of my time. Tally learns nothing! I'm left to conclude that maybe Tally is incapable of learning. She's a complete fool, stumbling from one ridiculous situation to the next barely aware of which way up she is. She spends a lot of time simply following other people around. Does she know where she is?!! Does she even know what's happening?!! I came to the conclusion that no, Tally doesn't have a goddam idea what the hell is going on.


And to honest, I found myself a little lost at times. Particularly when it came to Westerfeld's ham fisted attempts to describe nano-technology. I appreciate his desire to keep it simple, to reach out to a wide audience, an audience who perhaps have little more than a passing interest or knowledge of science. But come on Mr Westerfeld. At least try and make it logical and sensical! His explanation for the nature of the cure for air-headedness is so painfully flawed. I read it over about three times and just couldn't make it work. No. Ridiculous. Why would you take the pill that releases an enzyme into your brain? Enzymes digest proteins. So answer me this my friends - why would you take a pill that was literally going to devour your brain expecting it to remove lesions?!! Like, what?!! And how is taking a second pill that destroys aforementioned enzymes going to help this situation when you take both pills at once?! All that will achieve is ..... Well, nothing. Aargh!


Please take it away! It's burning my eyes! Reading about repulsively stupid people, letting their dumb-ass friends down, taking absurd and unnecessary risks, all the while spouting crap incessantly is not my idea of an entertaining read. Please, for your sanity stay away from this dire series. I've learned my lesson. I promise you this time. This is it. No more Scott Westerfeld. Ever.


Yeah, yeah, yeah - It's supposed to be pop fiction, a relaxing read. But this will never be relaxing. Nothing this infuriating can be relaxing. There's nothing enjoyable about being forced to accompany brain-dead Tally on her silly little escapades. To be frank, I would rather have followed behind Shay. At least she had an original, creative and determined thought in her pretty head. Spending time with Tally is akin to spending time with a broom handle - pointless, violently boring and infinitely frustrating.


Over and out. I'm so done with this shit.