This review is of the fourth book in a series. It will contain spoilers for the first three books in the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. Please read at your own discretion.
Published by Simon Pulse on January 1, 2007
It’s a few years after rebel Tally Youngblood took down the uglies/pretties/specials regime. Without those strict roles and rules, the world is in a complete cultural renaissance. “Tech-heads” flaunt their latest gadgets, “kickers” spread gossip and trends, and “surge monkeys” are hooked on extreme plastic surgery. And it’s all monitored on a bazillion different cameras. The world is like a gigantic game of “American Idol.” Whoever is getting the most buzz gets the most votes. Popularity rules.
As if being fifteen doesn’t suck enough, Aya Fuse’s rank of 451,369 is so low, she’s a total nobody. An extra. But Aya doesn’t care; she just wants to lie low with her drone, Moggle. And maybe kick a good story for herself.
Then Aya meets a clique of girls who pull crazy tricks, yet are deeply secretive of it. Aya wants desperately to kick their story, to show everyone how intensely cool the Sly Girls are. But doing so would propel her out of extra-land and into the world of fame, celebrity…and extreme danger. A world she’s not prepared for.
I was a bit hesitant to pick up Extras, the final book in Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series. This fourth book lives up to its title, as it is an extra addition to what was originally a trilogy. I’ve heard mixed reviews, and I was also wondering what an Uglies novel would be like following a different cast of characters. The book takes place three years after Tally took down her government, and focuses on a new main character called Aya. It was definitely weird to follow Aya instead of Tally, and it took me a while to really get into the story, simply because I was adapting to a new world.
Aya’s city has an economy based on face-rank. Basically, the more famous you are, the richer you are. Aya is a kicker, which means she posts stories to her feed in hopes that it will be shared. Sound familiar? This is quite similar to today’s social media culture, and I really liked how this concept is so relevant to today’s world.
That being said, there were definite issues with Extras. First, Westerfeld does a poor job at describing the setting. I was under the impression that the book takes place in Tally’s city, but it wasn’t until the book was half over that we find out Aya is actually from Japan (versus Tally’s California). It would have been helpful to have this set-up earlier in the book.
In the same way, there are a number of grammatical mistakes and copyediting errors throughout the book. It felt as if the release for Extras was rushed for publication. I deducted from the book’s overall rating for these errors, because I really don’t like when published books have so many mistakes.
Moreover, I was very excited when some of our favorite characters from the first three Uglies books made an appearance. I will keep it vague so as to not spoil you, but seeing these characters from another point of view was quite interesting. It really made me think about the first three books, and I liked this new perspective. They added a lot to Extras, but also to the original trilogy.
Overall, I am very glad I read Extras and officially finished of the Uglies series. While it was the weakest book in the series, I still liked the concept and plot, and thought it brought up some issues that are affecting us today. I will also mention that I certainly teared up in the final scene. I really enjoyed this series, and this was a poignant ending that I definitely recommend.
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