Monday, September 14, 2009

Specials - Scott Westerfeld

Once again, do not read this summary unless you've read the first two books, Uglies and Pretties. The summary alone will ruin the previous books for you.

Summary: "Special Circumstances"

The words have sent chills down Tally's spine since her days as a repellent, rebellious ugly. Back then Specials were a sinister rumor — frighteningly beautiful, dangerously strong, breathtakingly fast. Ordinary pretties might live their whole lives without meeting a Special. But Tally's never been ordinary.

And now she's been turned into one of them: a superamped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid.

The strength, the speed, and the clarity and focus of her thinking feel better than anything Tally can remember. Most of the time. One tiny corner of her heart still remembers something more.

Still, it's easy to tune that out — until Tally's offered a chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat, or carry out the mission she's programmed to complete. Either way, Tally's world will never be the same. (Summary and image from

My Review: By the end of Pretties, I was kind of bored of the whole ugly/pretty dilemma. This book took on a totally different feel. Tally was different. For that, it hooked me.

As a teacher and as a friend of someone who's cut herself, this book has objectionable subject matter that to be left unaddressed by an adult would be irresponsible. I would NOT have my child--boy or girl--read this book with me talking with them about the content. Eventually the message gets across that cutting is bad, and definitely not necessary to life. But, to have a child read this--and especially if they did not finish the book--without some dialogue about the realities of cutting is imprudent. But, it's realistic. I'm not the type to sugar coat the world or life because I think that will protect a child. I believe information is power. And because of this, I believe talking and allowing kids to read about subject matter that has real life issues is important. That's not to say I'm going to throw every book with things that are objectionable at my child. I just think that if it's something they're interested in reading, and you know the issues, it is a good way to educate your child (and yourself).


The characters, by this point in the story, are dear to the reader. So when they kill off Zane, it just hurts. I realize that life is sometimes this way: people we love die. It just didn't set right. It felt like it left Tally a shell with little purpose to her life except to prevent the world from becoming what it once was. And while that's a great purpose to her life, it's unfulfilled in a deep, loveless, and family-life level.

Ok, Spoiler Over

Tally's super...well, everything (strength, senses, speed) along with her struggle to fight against the programing they did to her brain is an interesting topic for discussion. Many people fight obsessive thoughts and actions. There are others who fight thoughts of superiority or the opposite, inferiority. I think these are all great discussion topics, especially with teens.

The book did end a little hollow for me. It really is the end of the series in the sense of the main characters. The next book, Extras, has a different protagonist and a really different plot. Still, I think this book was better than Pretties, but not as good as Uglies. Uglies is what gets this series off to the rip-roaring start that makes the rest of the books so enjoyable.

Rating: 4.25 Stars A book I couldn't put down, but not one I'd recommend to everyone. I liked it quite a bit though.

Sum it up in a phrase: A girl's fight against inner demons--not her natural vices this time--and her drive to save humanity from power hungry individuals out only for themselves.

1 comment:

alastaircookie said...

Whoa, I totally agreed with everything you said!! I loved this book, and it was a really great end to an amazing trilogy(if you don't count Extras)- but I felt kind of drained afterwards. And even though I was expecting someone to die (being the dark-ish type of series that it is), it broke my heart that it was Zane. =( Anyway, what I meant to say is that I loved your review, very honest and true to the book! ;)


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