Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

The basics

Title: Uglies


Series: Uglies #1

- Uglies (2005)
- Pretties (2005)
- Specials (2006)
- Extras (2006)

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Goodreads Summary:

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. In just a few weeks she'll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunning pretty. And as a pretty, she'll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun.

But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to become a pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world—and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally's choice will change her world forever....

Read a full summary of Uglies by Scott Westerfeld below. If you can’t remember what happened in Uglies and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

what happened in Uglies?

  • Tally Youngblood is currently an Ugly and she’s sad about it. All her friends, including Peris, have now turned Pretty, so Tally has been left behind.
  • A bit upset, Tally breaks into New Pretty Town. The Pretties are currently all partying. Tally hides her face behind a pig mask so she can blend into the street party.
  • Tally crashes a party and bumps into Peris, who gets super embarrassed to be around Tally because she’s still Ugly. He helps her escape though, so that’s nice of him. While grandly escaping, Tally sets off an alarm.
  • Wardens come after Tally. She tries to escape and bumps into someone called Shay, who is apparently super Ugly. Shay helps Tally escape New Pretty Town using hoverboards, which is pretty cool.
  • Tally shows Shay some ideas she has about what she wants her new Pretty face to look like. She tries to help Shay come up with something for herself too but Shay doesn’t want to.
  • Shay and Tally head out into the wilderness to play with hoverboards. They come across some ruins of a previous civilization. They explore the ruined city a little and then Shay sends a firework signal to a mysterious friend called David.
  • Some time passes and the pair pretend to throw Shay off a building as a prank. They fight over turning Pretty, because they disagree on whether it’s a good thing or not.
  • Shay wants to run away to the Smoke, which is a secret town where David is from. Tally doesn’t want to go because of the Pretty thing, so Shay goes off alone.
  • Tally is about to be operated on when a semi-creepy guy shows up and says there’s a problem. He takes her to Special Circumstances, which sounds ominous. A super-creepy guy named Dr Cable wants to know where Shay went. Tally doesn’t spill, and so she has to remain Ugly.
  • Tally gets sent back to her dorms. Peris finds her one night and tells Tally that now she’s a criminal, everyone is interested in meeting her. Peris convinces Tally to help Cable.
  • Tally tells Cable about Shay, David, and the Smoke. Cable instructs Tally to go and find the Smoke. He also gives her a tracker.
  • Tally follows Shay’s coded instructions. She bathes in a river and spots a helicopter. It doesn’t see her, though, so it’s all good.
  • Tally hides in a field full of flowers which then gets set on fire because the flowers are invasive. Or just nice to look at.
  • Shay finds Tally on a hill. David arrives with her. They take Tally back to the Smoke and show her around. Tally is about to confess that she’s spying on them when the Boss arrives and interrupts.
  • Tally gets to know Shay’s friends. Then she gets to work using power tools on the track. She takes a break and goes off with David. He tells her the Smoke is his home and he was born there.
  • Shay wonders if Tally told someone else about the Smoke.
  • David wonders how Tally had so much food left if she was in the wilderness alone for so long.
  • David and Tally start to like each other. He introduces her to his parents, Maddy and Az. They used to be cosmetic surgeons but they discovered that the Pretty surgery caused (??)  some mild (????) brain damage. Some Pretties don’t have them, so perhaps this is all intentional.
  • David tells Tally she’s more beautiful than Shay, which is weird? Then they kiss.
  • Tally destroys the tracker and goes to sleep. She wakes up and the Special Circumstances crew have arrived.
  • The Boss and Tally try to flee into the woods. Tally distracts the Specials. She is captured and put away with Croy. Shay is also caught.
  • Tally is taken to see Cable. He asks why the tracker is damaged and why Tally was trying to escape. Thankfully, Cable thinks Tally summoned the Specials on purpose.
  • Tally escapes and hoverboards away. She hides in a cave, and bumps into David. She carries on lying to him about her connection to Special Circumstances because it’s a really healthy relationship.
  • The pair head down to the Smoke, which is ruined. The library has been destroyed. They find the Boss’s body and then go to seek out David’s parents.
  • David’s parents’ cabin is burnt but they don’t find any bodies. David thinks his parents have been captured.
  • David and Tally head back to the city. David tells Tally about the history of the Rusties and how their civilization fell when someone found a way to infect oil. Huh.
  • They steal some bungee jackets from the art school and they go and get some new recruits from the Ruins.
  • The Ugles make a fireworks sign saying “The Smoke Lives”, which should distract the Specials long enough for David and Tally to save their friends.
  • They break into Special Circumstances. They find and capture Cable, and bump into Shay, who is now very Pretty.
  • Shay offers to help them, even though she still thinks Tally stole her boyfriend and got everyone captured.
  • David’s dad is dead, but everyone else is freed. They agree to meet up back at the secret cave.
  • Maddy found info in Cable’s notes and she thinks they’ll be able to cure Shay and the other Pretties, but mainly Shay. The only issue is that the cure is experimental and Shay doesn’t want it, so they can’t really force her.
  • Tally feels awful so after telling David and Maddy what she did,  she offers herself up to become Pretty. She signs a letter beforehand so that she can consent to being given the experimental procedure.

That was our recap of what happened in Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Check out our recap list for more plot summaries, and if you can’t find what you need you can request a recap here!

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