By Paisley Kandler ’22
For the next five issues, I will be writing book reviews, each with a different genre. As an avid reader, I want to give my perspective on books I find intriguing in concept, plot, characters or story.
For issue 2, I decided to write on Sci-fi books, both classic and modern. I hope that you find them as exceptional of reads as I did.
‘The Uglies’ by Scott Westerfeld
Set 300 years in the future, “Uglies” by Scott Westerfeld is sure to be a favorite of readers of YA and sci-fi alike.
Tally Youngblood is an Ugly. However, once she turns 16 years old, she will be operated on to improve her stamina and health, and most importantly, it will make her become beautiful. Tally is ecstatic for the operation, as it means she will live in New Pretty Town with her best friend, Peris, and have not a care in the world as she parties and does whatever she wants for the rest of her life.
However, Tally meets Shay, another Ugly. Tally doesn’t understand Shay’s deep hatred of the “pretty” operation initially, though she soon realizes that Shay’s perspective may reveal the real motive of the operation.
This book is appealing in part due to its different world. It’s richly described from the lives of its citizens from “littlies” to “uglies” to “pretties” to “crumblies,” to the stark differences between the dwellings of the Uglies and Pretties. The minutiae that make up their civilization sets the scene vibrantly.
The inhabitants of Westerfeld’s world are certainly not dimmed by their world’s light; rather, they thrive in it while exhibiting the same struggles with conflicts that are relatable to us today.
Tally especially shows an inner struggle with figuring out where her identity falls in line with both the civilization she’s grown up in, and personal morals she learns from Shay and others throughout the course of the book.
“Uglies” displays its themes of self-identity, superficiality versus genuine values and the true cost of beauty while balancing a variety of memorable setting and characters. This combination wraps up together nicely to create a hard-to-put-down read.
‘1984’ by George Orwell
While certainly not a light read by any standards, George Orwell’s novel, a reflection of life in a dystopian view of future Britain, is as relevant today as it was in 1949.
Set 35 years after the book’s publication, the story is set in Airstrip One in the former London in the totalitarian nation of Oceania, one of three world supernations. Winston Smith, a member of Oceania’s Outer Party, deals with the never-ending extreme fears of the world he inhabits: poverty, forced patriotism, love of their illustrious leader Big Brother, but foremost, the fear that negative thoughts towards Oceania will have him sent to the Thought Police.
After learning of a secret organization outside of the Outer and Inner Parties, Winston slowly learns the true nature of the world’s three countries, Big Brother, and what keeps the government in such tight control.
Though some stretches of chapters are purely political in content, “1984” is fascinating in its ability to correlate with modern and historical politics while maintaining an evident extreme of both.
Winston is relatable in that he is essentially a nondescript everyday person. While he offers little in terms of distinct personality, this gives the reader a view of Oceania all their own. Winston serves as a pair of powerful glasses for the reader to observe the cruelty of change through observant views.
“1984” is insightful because it provides a view at an alternate world to our own that is simultaneously similar and vastly different from the politics that surround us in the past, present and future.