Friday, March 5, 2010

Specials, by Scott Westerfeld

I waited a long time to read Specials, the third and final installment of the Uglies Trilogy. Partly the ending of the 2nd book, Pretties, didn't really compel me to keep reading.

While I was enchanted with the ideas and characters in book one and part of book two, I struggled through Specials, like a mountain climber trekking up an icy cliff, one pick at a time.

First of all, Westerfeld takes us back to Tally's "relationship" with Zane (from the beginning of book 2). I thought that was a dead relationship because of how close she is/was to David. So it felt like a replay of book 2 entirely.

Secondly, the themes are scattered and not focused. One chapter you're worried about getting society to the point where there isn't any controlling government messing with people's heads. The next chapter you're worried about people encroaching on wildlife (a heavier-handed approach for the environmentalist angle--even for me . . . a moderate environmentalist). This especially took a turn for the worse when the book's epilogue (NO SPOILER) focuses on Tally and David become glorified forest rangers (who cares about the people they've tried to rescue from oppression for the entire series . . . now we're going to save the trees and rainforests). A little sudden. Quite out of place.

Thirdly, the coined cliches (bubbly, rusty, icy) drove me to distraction, and I nearly had to put the book down for good.

Overall the series is interesting, but the finale left much to be desired and was only tolerable for me as I tried to find closure. I like Westerfeld's style overall, and I have hope I'll like his Leviathan better.

Specials, by Scott Westerfeld. 2006. Simon Pulse. 372 pp. $9.99 (PB).

Uglies Series:

1. Uglies
2. Pretties
3. Specials


  1. I also had a little trouble with the bouncing focus in Specials but Pretties was my favorite in the series, bar the end, because I really liked how different the language and interaction between the characters was from the first book. I do like how Westerfield seems to take the same relationships and story lines and make his main character experience them differently based on how they have played with her brain.
    For me it was much like the teen brain from middle school(uglies)to High School(Pretties) to College(specials). First the focus is on fitting in, then on having fun and figuring out who you are and finally on fighting all the responsibility in your life to find a way to be yourself and still make a difference. His romantic situations are NOT his strong point for sure. Hated the end of the both the relationships in the book. But still enjoyed Tally's character a lot. I also thought his focus on cutting in Specials was an important topic and he handled it well. Not dismissing it or glorifying it.

  2. I felt exactly the same way about Specials--the series up until that point focused on self-worth and self-image, liking yourself for who you are, and of course had a touch of "Down with Big Brother." Then at the end suddenly everything is "Go green or we'll kick your butts!" Uglies remains the best in the trilogy.

    And're going to LOVE Leviathan. It's easily his best.

  3. I haven't read any of them yet. I should really surface from Regency England sometime and read other things. Its just that Regency is quite nice for the escaping the winter blahs. :)