Scott Westerfeld, 2005 by Simon Schuster Children's, 425 pages.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Tally Youngblood is
about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait for the operation that turns
everyone from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and
catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to party.
But new friend Shay would rather hoverboard to "the Smoke" and be free.
Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world and it isn't
very pretty. The "Special Circumstances" authority Dr Cable offers Tally
the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or
never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world
This one falls under that category, "What took me so long?" I've heard about this one for ages, but never got around to reading it, but am glad that I finally did.
I loved the premise of this book: a dystopian future where everyone gets an operation to make them pretty at aged 16. Everyone is considered to be ugly before the operation. They do this, ostensibly. to stop jealousy and prejudice - if everyone looks similar, then people will have to judge each other by other means. This is the theory, anyway.
I love the social commentary in this book, about individuality, our looks, how we treat the environment, our government... I find that most good dystopian novels force us to look at ourselves, and this one certainly delivers.
I liked Tallly and her development as a character. She goes from totally buying into her society's belief about being pretty to questioning everything that she's been taught. I also liked her friendship with Shay and how that changed with the circumstances - it felt realistic. Her romance with David was nice, if a bit predictable.
I am anxious to read the next in this series. Luckily, all the books are out, so I don't have to wait.