I’ve just finished reading Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. It’s a dystopian YA novel essentially dealing with the cult of beauty. When children reach the age of 16, they are given plastic surgery to transform them from “Uglies” to “Pretties”. The children are brought up indoctrinated with the belief that society can only survive and be free from all forms of ugliness (jealousy, war, all manifestations of inner ugliness) through being transformed into one of the “Pretties”.
I can’t help but think this book would promote excellent discussion with students about the reality of the cult of beauty. But so far (I have only read book 1 from the series) I am frustrated because the protagonist, Tally, only comes to question her beliefs through the gaze of a male (a male love interest tells her she is not ugly but beautiful), and because she learns that the transformation includes tinkering with the brain to make most Pretties vacuous and obedient (i.e. the transformation would be perfectly OK if it wasn’t for the brain alteration). These two issues bother me a lot, and I am thinking about writing something more detailed and theoretical to critique the book. I’d be interested to hear other opinions about the book, and I will save my final judgements until I read book 2 in the series (not sure I’ll manage all 4 though!).