Born in Dallas, TX, in 1963, Scott Westerfeld was born the youngest of three children. Westerfeld grew up in several states due to his father's career as a computer programmer for Univac. He graduated from Vassar in 1985 with a degree in philosophy. Before becoming a full time writer, Westerfeld held several jobs including factory worker, software designer, editor, and substitute teacher. He currently resides in New York and Australia with his wife, Justine Larbalestier.
by Scott Westerfeld
About the Books
Living in a future where sixteen-year-olds are surgically
transformed from "uglies" to "pretties," Tally Youngblood struggles
with a choice: to become beautiful and content forever, or to leave
the world she knows and keep her own face. Tally''s decisions bring
her to both locations as well as others she''d never dreamed of,
but they also get her in and out of trouble, and force her to grow
and change and learn. Westerfeld''s books have won many nominations
and awards as well as a huge fan following of teens everywhere.
Uglies was named a 2006 Best Book for Young Adults by the
Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the
American Library Association.
On your sixteenth birthday, how would you feel about being
forced to have the surgery to become pretty? Would you feel like
Tally -- looking forward to being beautiful and bubbly -- or like
Shay -- wanting to escape the surgery and stay ugly, but remain
herself? If your best friend asked you to not have the surgery,
what do think you would have chosen to do?
What elements of the Smoke remind you of a camping trip you''ve
taken or one you''ve seen on TV or in a movie? What advice would
you give the Smokies about living in the wild?
Tally has three important guys in her life: Peris, David and
Zane. How does her relationship with each of the three effect her
decisions at different points in the story? Which of the three do
you think made the greatest impact on Tally?
Compare Tally''s society with our society today. What are the
similarities between Dr. Cable''s controls and our own government?
Just as Tally and her friends were brought up learning about the
failure of the Rusties'' society, what lessons can be learned from
the future portrayed in the series?
The author created new worlds, new technology and new language
for the books. Which location -- New Pretty Town, the Smoke, or
Diego -- would you want to make your home? Which of Tally''s
futuristic possessions -- a hoverboard, a sneak suit, SpagBol --
would you like to own? What were your favorite slang words in the
What do you think was the pivotal point in each of the three
books? What would you change about them?
What are Tally''s strongest assets and her tragic flaws? What
about Shay? David? Zane?
Is Dr.Cable a protagonist or an antagonist? At what points in
the series does she seem more good than evil or more evil than
good? Does she have the best interests of the people of Pretty Town
at heart or is she simply trying to gain power and prestige?
If the Uglies series was made into a movie, who would
you cast to play the part of Tally? Shay? David? Zane? Peris? Dr.
Cable? Where in the world do you think it should be filmed? Who
would be the best director for this project?
Who was your favorite character in the series? How did you feel
about how they ended up at the end of Specials? Which
character do you think is the most like you or your friends?
Imagine that David decided to live in the city of Diego. What
challenges would he face there, having grown up in the wild? What
would a day in the life of David in Diego be like? Do you think
he''d get used to his new life, or decide to return to his old
Where do you see Tally two years after the end of Specials? How
about Shay? Peris? What do you think Pretty Town and Diego would be
like two years later?
Design your own hoverboard. First make a blueprint including
what kinds of gadgets you would include in its secret compartments,
then make a prototype using cardboard, paper towel rolls, markers,
Act out a scene from one of the books. Assign parts to each
participant and choose your favorite scene -- maybe Tally''s first
trip to New Pretty Town to visit Peris, the invasion of the Smoke
by Special Circumstances, or the destruction of the Armory.
Put a pretty spin on a sport (think about the suspended ice
skating rink in Pretties) and come up with your own bubbly
rules and regulations.
Put yourself in Dr. Cable''s shoes. Take turns telling the
Specials story from her point of view and include what you
think her motives were behind her actions in the previous two
Design your own Smoke fashions, Diego surge or sneak suits. What
materials found in the wild could you use to fit in at the Smoke?
In Diego, would you have a snake for a pinky? How would you use
your sneak suit in your everyday life?
Debate the benefits of Pretty Town versus the Smoke versus
Diego. Form three teams -- one pro-Diego, one pro-Smoke and one
pro-Pretty Town -- and discuss the positives and negatives of
Look at the covers of Uglies, Pretties and
Specials. Then re-draw your own version of each of the
covers highlighting your favorite scene from each book.
In Tally's world, one's 16th birthday brings an operation that transforms them from a repellent Ugly to an attractive Pretty. Tally wants to turn into a Pretty, but her friend Shay would rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, the authorities give Tally a terrible choice.