Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
(Simon Pulse, Paperback, 2005)
In Tally's world, everyone gets to be supermodel gorgeous on their 16th birthday. They undergo a huge surgery and leave their Ugly faces and bodies behind. Once a Pretty, their life is one big party and they never have to worry about anything again. But right before her 16th birthday, Tally meets Shay. Shay doesn't want to be turned into a Pretty and has a plan to run away to live with other people who have refused the surgery. This rogue society is hiding from the government though and Tally isn't sure she's ready to risk her almost prettiness for her new friend.
Yikes, this book is scary. Of course, all dystopian novels are scary to me, so maybe you won't find it so scary. Westerfeld takes the premise that we all prefer symmetrical faces and completely twists it into a very believable alternate future. You see, the Pretty surgery has actually advanced society. There are no more biases based on looks when people apply for jobs, there is no more making fun of the ugly kid in school because everyone is Ugly, and eating disorders are a thing of the past because it is programmed into Pretties bodies that they won't be too skinny or too fat. When I first read the back of the book, I expected Tally to change her view points overnight, but she refreshingly sticks by her desire to become a Pretty. This novel definitely makes you think about our societal views of beauty and how harmful they can be. I highly recommend this book for discussion groups, young and old.