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A-red-lipstick-wearing bibliophile extraordinaire. Word nerd & Joss Whedon fangirl; Literature lover & book reviewer. Lady Libertine; Tea collector; Potterhead.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Review: Uglies

In the first of this series we are sent into a future world where, at the age of 16, every person undergoes a form of extreme plastic surgery to turn them from an 'ugly' to a 'pretty.'
The theory behind is this, if everyone is beautiful and looks the same, the petty bias that comes from looking different will ultimately be eradicated. I guess because they're too busy looking sexy to fight.
Tally Youngblood is 15 and a resident of Uglyville, she's recently just lost her best friend to New Pretty Town and is eagerly awaiting the day she can join him in the land of the pretties. Of course, the way things are- nothing is what it seems. Tall finds herself in a particularly bad situation where she has to choose between betraying her friends or remaining an ugly forever.

Complete with Government cover ups, conspiracy theories and living in a blatantly obvious Big Brother lifestyle. This has all the generic bits and pieces to the typical YA dystopian future story. Uglies focuses very obviously on norms that run amok in today's society, particularly that of body images and what it is that people see as ugly and beautiful. I really liked the ideas behind this story, and while I enjoyed it- I did feel parts of it could have executed a lot better.

I found no strength in the protagonist, Tally or in her sidekick- Shay. Both of their desires to seek the truth behind the beautiful lie (and every subsequent action) has to do with their immediate attraction to the 'ugly' but oh-so-dreamy David. At times I found this very uncomfortable to read, unlike other female protagonists there is no real courage in their convictions. (What would Buffy say, really?)
I'll give her something though, Tally has moments where she's completely badass on a hoverboard- but my estimations take like a stone to water when she has a ridiculous cat fight with her newest best friend over a wilderness boy. (I know it's set hundreds of years into the future, but surely they could have kept the idiom bros before -- you know what, never mind.)
Another thing I found difficult to deal with was the overuse of the words 'ugly' and 'pretty', I get the feeling the author wanted to make it abundantly clear that we should never see the world so black and white but were forced to do regardless, and by the person who is telling us not to. It got too confusing for words, really.

A lot of the plot, while a great idea seemed to take an absolute age to unfold, it made the reading difficult and I didn't sink into the story as quickly as I'd have liked to. I don't usually count pages of chapters but I found myself waiting to see how many pages it took for something new to happen. The writing itself was a fine read, although there wasn't much jumping out at me. I always expect these sorts of novels to lead me one way and then jerk me round a corner to somewhere completely different, this novel however took me on a very clear path. I knew what was going to happen and wasn't surprised when it did.

Not to say I didn't enjoy this though, I couldn't really put it down even when I wanted to. I'm not sure if it was because it was an addictive albeit easy read, or I just wanted it over and done with.

Rating: ★★★

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Review: The Hobbit

I don't usually make it my business to review books I've already read, but when the opportunity arises to wax poetic about one of the literature loves of my life?
Well, I'm not immune to everything!
With the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey last month, I feel the irresistible urge to persuade people to read this wonderful tale.

Hobbits, are a simple, peaceful and largely unadventurous race- Bilbo Baggins of Bag-End is no exception. One fateful evening brings a party of dwarves to the hole under the Hill, and Bilbo finds himself in the throes of a quest to retrieve treasure guarded by the  dragon, Smaug.
We follow the adventure as Bilbo and the band of dwarves face cave-dwelling goblins, giant spiders, a seemingly never ending forest and man-eating trolls; all before they end up at their final destination The Lonely Mountain and the Desolation of the Dragon.

I first read this book at 11 years old and ever since then it has been a popular re-read. This is everything a children's fantasy book should be, it's witty and charming, it's chock full of adventure and it's got more courage and heart than you can shake a stick at. It really is a short story of epic proportions, and definitely one of Tolkien's easier reads. Although it's still incredibly verbose, it was definitely written with children in mind, so the pacing is a lot quicker and the descriptions are a lot easier to wrap your head around than they are in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I freely admit that when it comes to the works of Tolkien I can't really give a balanced review, it's a part of me as much as my skin is. There really isn't a part of this book I didn't enjoy, not when I was 11 and not 13 years later. It's a definite read, and re-read, and a perfect opportunity to pick it up before The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug comes out later this year.

Rating: ★★★★★