Tally Youngblood is about to turn sixteen and get the “pretty operation”, much like plastic surgery on your entire body. Tally has looked forward to this operation for her whole life, but then she meets Shay, who doesn’t want to turn pretty. Shay would rather hoverboard to “the Smoke”, join the rebellion and be free. The “Special Circumstances” authority Dr Cable offers Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. As Tally makes choices that will change her world forever and finds out secrets about the pretty world and operation that aren’t very pretty, she begins to think that maybe, just maybe, she doesn’t want to be pretty after all.
In some ways, people could say this book is like Delirium by Lauren Oliver. It is not like Delirium. Scott Westerfeld’s writing and the world he puts his characters in are far superior to Lauren Oliver’s, in my opinion. This is not a contemporary romance. This is a die-hard, action-filled, amazing adventure book with notes of contemporary romance, dystopia, slice of life, sci-fi and complexity.
1) The Knife of Never Letting Go. That is what I first thought off the minute I opened to the first page of this book, (no, not the dedications and summary, the first real reading page). The Knife of Never Letting Go has one of my favorite first book sentences ever. Uglies also makes the list. Right from the beginning, it is a reasonably fast-moving book that is interesting and fun to read.
2) The cultural values of this book. Despite being a great book, this book really makes you check your self esteem. You think, would I get that pretty surgery if I had the chance? Who would I choose to be? What would I do? Would I pick a meaningless life where all I ever do is have fun, or lead a dangerous life full of things that makes a life worth living? Okay, that last sentence was totally biased. Ignore it. I’m sorry. Still, it makes you think about yourself and the world around you. Scott Westerfeld’s world is masterfully created, both frightening and funny. It really shows how overvaluing beauty can be while at the same time showing how society can make it seem like, without something, there is no other way to live.
3) The ruins. Throughout this book there’s mentions of the Rusty Ruins, (which you’ll learn about when you read the book), but it’s super easy to believe that this book is built on ruins of our own society today. In lots of ways, I didn’t like the way the world inside the book made Tally. In the later books, she becomes different and Scott Westerfeld fixes this problem, but I felt like Tally was really shallow at times. At other times, I could really relate to her on difficult matters. You can’t weigh the odds of each side of the problem because the odds are so close in importance, power and the affect it could have on your life–good or bad.
pg count for the paperback: 425