The sequel to Uglies, Pretties is a continuation of the struggles Tally Youngblood faces against a culture of Pretties. Knowing that the government can’t be defeated from the outside, Tally volunteers to become a sleeper agent. She allows herself to be captured and undergoes the operation to become Pretty, including acquiring the brain lesion designed to keep her from remembering the past or caring about anything too deeply. When she is “activated,” Tally and her boyfriend Zane both take a pill that is supposed to reverse the effects of the Lesion and ground them, keeping their minds from getting too “bubbly.” Sadly the pills were meant to be a dose for one person, not split between two, and Zane’s body begins attacking his brain. It becomes Tally’s job to find a way to save him, which requires staying level headed, and finding the resistance fighters again. In the course of the adventure, Tally finds her own way to bypass her brain-damage, and works to save her friends, only to find that standing against her is an old nemesis, her former friend–now government agent or “Special”–Shay.
Pretties examines many of the same virtues as its predecessor Uglies, but adds some of its own twists. Tally must choose between sacrificing her comfort and security for friends she doesn’t remember, and then has to make the very same choice again and again as she tries to find a cure for Zane. This explores the cost of Agape love in a very real way. This book also considers Temperance and Prudence in the way Shay and the Crims self mutilate in an attempt to keep themselves alert and “non-bubbly,” all-too-common themes for adolescent girls today. There are also many characters in this book who believe that the ends justify the means, which leads to explorations of Prudence and Justice.
Pretties was a great book to discuss with teen girls. We were able to talk a lot about the costs of looking good and living the party life. We also examined whether or not it would be good for society to have mandatory and/or secret means (e.g., surgery, medication) to keep society calm and content. We were able to weigh safety and security versus rights and desires; and considered the virtues of different social options.
Groups that read Pretties start with the prequel Uglies, and recommend the last two books in the series Specials, and Extras if time allows.