By Scott Westerfield


Welcome to the captivating world of Pretties by Scott Westerfeld 🌟📚! This novel, the second installment in the Uglies series, plunges us back into Westerfeld’s brilliantly conceived dystopian universe. Published in 2005, Pretties continues to explore themes of beauty, identity, and resistance, set against a future where society imposes radical cosmetic surgery on teenagers to conform to an ideal standard of beauty.

Scott Westerfeld, an American author known for his contributions to young adult fiction, has crafted a series that not only entertains but also provokes thought about our current societal norms and values. With a keen eye for detail and a rich imagination, Westerfeld creates a world that mirrors our own in many ways, making readers question the price of conformity and the value of individuality.

In Pretties, we follow Tally Youngblood’s journey after undergoing the operation that transforms her from an ‘Ugly’ into a ‘Pretty’. As she navigates her new life, Tally’s story is filled with thrilling adventures, complex relationships, and the quest for self-discovery. Set in a genre that blends science fiction with young adult themes, Pretties is a compelling narrative about rebellion, love, and finding one’s true self amidst the pressures to fit in.

Dive into this mesmerizing tale and join Tally as she unravels the truths behind her seemingly perfect society 🌆✨. Whether you’re returning to the series or discovering it for the first time, Pretties promises a journey that will challenge, entertain, and leave you pondering long after the last page.

Plot Summary

Pretties intricately weaves a narrative that explores the complexities of beauty, identity, and society’s influence. Let’s break down the main events of the story:

Exposition — The story picks up with Tally Youngblood’s transformation into a ‘Pretty’. Immersed in the superficial and carefree lifestyle of New Pretty Town, Tally enjoys the endless parties and the beauty she once longed for. However, her perfect new world is tinged with a sense of emptiness and a faint memory of her promise to the Smokies, a group opposed to society’s norms.

Rising Action — Tally’s life takes a turn when she encounters Zane, a charismatic Pretty who shares her sense of discomfort and desire for something more. Together, they stumble upon clues left by Tally’s old self, leading them on a quest to uncover the truth behind the operation and the city’s sinister motives. Their journey is fraught with challenges, both physical and emotional, as they navigate the dangers of rebelling against their society.

Climax — The climax unfolds as Tally and Zane take a radical step to free themselves from the mental constraints imposed by the Pretty operation, using pills developed by the Smokies. The decision comes with unforeseen consequences, putting their lives and sanity at risk. This act of defiance marks the peak of their rebellion and sets the stage for a deeper conflict.

Falling Action — In the aftermath of taking the pills, Zane suffers debilitating side effects, leading to a desperate quest for a cure. Tally is faced with the realization that their actions have consequences, forcing her to confront her responsibilities and the impact of her choices on those around her. Meanwhile, the city’s authorities close in, tightening the noose around the rebels.

Resolution — The novel concludes with Tally making a sacrificial choice to protect her friends and the Smokies’ cause. Her decision to turn herself into the authorities in exchange for the safety of others exemplifies her growth from a self-centered Pretty to a selfless individual. Tally’s journey comes full circle as she leaves behind the superficiality of New Pretty Town, embracing her true self and the fight for a more authentic existence.

Pretties is a compelling narrative of transformation, both literal and metaphorical, as Tally navigates the treacherous waters of societal expectations, personal identity, and the quest for freedom. Through its twists and turns, Scott Westerfeld invites readers to reflect on the true cost of beauty and the value of individuality in a conformist world.

Character Analysis

In Pretties, Scott Westerfeld delves into the complexities of his characters, each embodying different aspects of the novel’s themes such as conformity, identity, and resistance. Here’s a closer look at the main characters:

  • Tally Youngblood — Once an eager Ugly looking forward to becoming a Pretty, Tally’s transformation into a Pretty brings her face-to-face with the superficiality and compliance expected in New Pretty Town. Her journey is one of self-discovery and rebellion as she seeks to break free from societal chains, showcasing significant growth in courage, resourcefulness, and self-awareness.
  • Zane — Zane is a Pretty who, like Tally, feels that something is fundamentally wrong with the life of perpetual leisure and beauty. His character represents the questioning inner voice against societal norms. Zane’s bravery and willingness to change the system from within highlight themes of rebellion and the quest for truth.
  • Shay — Shay is Tally’s friend from her Ugly days, whose journey into Prettydom and subsequent actions weave a complex narrative of friendship, jealousy, and ideological conflict. Shay’s character explores the costs of transformation and the deep impact of societal pressures on personal relationships and individual identity.
  • David — A leader of the Smokies, David represents a life untouched by societal modifications, standing for authenticity, and the value of natural beauty and capabilities. His connection with Tally introduces her—and the reader—to alternative perspectives on beauty, identity, and resistance.

Character Analysis Summary

Tally YoungbloodDetermined, resourcefulTo find her true self beyond societal expectationsTransforms from a compliant Pretty to a rebellious figure seeking authenticity
ZaneCharismatic, thoughtfulTo escape the mental constraints of being a PrettyGrows from a discontent Pretty to an active rebel, despite physical costs
ShayComplex, conflictedStruggles with her transformation and friendship with TallyEvolves through her experiences, reflecting the challenges of change and ideology
DavidGenuine, steadfastTo oppose the city’s superficial valuesRemains consistent, embodying natural beauty and strength, and influences Tally’s transformation

Through these characters, Westerfeld explores profound questions about conformity, identity, and the essence of human beauty. Each character’s journey provides insight into the struggle between societal expectations and the quest for personal truth, making Pretties a nuanced study of growth and self-discovery amidst dystopian constraints.

Themes and Symbols

Pretties by Scott Westerfeld is rich with themes and symbols that delve into the complexities of beauty, identity, and society. Let’s explore these deeper meanings:


  • The Cost of Conformity — The novel critically examines the societal pressure to conform to certain standards of beauty and behavior, questioning the true cost of such conformity on individuality and freedom.
  • The Search for Identity — Tally’s journey is a poignant exploration of self-discovery, as she navigates the murky waters of societal expectations to find her true self. This theme resonates with the universal quest for personal identity amidst external pressures.
  • Resistance and Rebellion — The characters’ efforts to resist the city’s control and the Pretty ideology highlight the theme of rebellion against oppressive systems, underscoring the importance of critical thinking and individual agency.
  • Friendship and Loyalty — The dynamics between Tally, Shay, Zane, and David emphasize the complexities of friendships tested by societal norms and personal growth, exploring how relationships evolve with identity and beliefs.


  • The Operation — Becoming a “Pretty” through surgery symbolizes society’s obsession with physical perfection and the lengths to which it will go to erase individual differences, serving as a critique of superficial values.
  • New Pretty Town — This setting represents the seductive allure of conformity, offering a life of leisure and beauty in exchange for compliance with societal norms, mirroring real-world consumerist and appearance-driven cultures.
  • The River — Flowing between the city and the Smoke, the river symbolizes the boundary between two worlds: one of artificial beauty and control, and the other of natural beauty and freedom. It represents the choices and transitions Tally must navigate.
  • Hoverboards and Technology — Hoverboards and other futuristic technologies symbolize the double-edged sword of progress, offering freedom and exhilaration but also facilitating control and surveillance by the city.

Through these themes and symbols, Pretties invites readers to reflect on the values of their society, the nature of beauty, and the importance of embracing one’s individuality. Scott Westerfeld crafts a narrative that is as thought-provoking as it is entertaining, challenging readers to consider what lies beneath the surface of the quest for perfection.

Style and Tone

Scott Westerfeld’s Pretties is characterized by a writing style and tone that skillfully complement its themes and setting. Here’s how these elements contribute to the mood and atmosphere of the book:

  • Descriptive and Immersive — Westerfeld employs a richly descriptive style that immerses readers in the futuristic world of the Uglies series. His vivid descriptions of New Pretty Town, the wilds outside the city, and the technology that permeates the society help to create a fully realized world that is both enticing and disturbing.
  • Fast-Paced and Suspenseful — The narrative is fast-paced, with a focus on action and suspense that keeps readers engaged. Westerfeld masterfully builds tension through plot twists and the characters’ adventures, reflecting the urgency of Tally’s quest for truth and self-discovery.
  • Reflective and Thoughtful — Amidst the action, the tone of the novel often shifts to become reflective, allowing space for characters—and readers—to ponder the deeper themes of beauty, identity, and conformity. These moments provide a counterbalance to the excitement, enriching the narrative with layers of meaning.
  • Youthful and Accessible — The tone is deliberately youthful and accessible, resonating with the young adult audience’s experiences and concerns. Westerfeld captures the voice of his characters in a way that feels authentic and relatable, discussing complex issues without alienating readers.
  • Irony and Critique — There is an underlying irony in the portrayal of the Pretties’ seemingly perfect life, which critiques societal obsessions with beauty and perfection. The tone at times becomes subtly critical, encouraging readers to question the values promoted by Tally’s society and, by extension, our own.

Through these stylistic and tonal choices, Scott Westerfeld creates a compelling narrative that captures the complexities of his dystopian world while engaging readers with its characters and their journeys. Pretties is not just a story about a future society; it’s a reflection on the challenges of growing up and finding one’s place in the world.

Literary Devices used in Pretties

Scott Westerfeld’s Pretties employs a variety of literary devices that enrich the narrative, adding depth and complexity to the story. Let’s explore the top 10 literary devices used in the book:

  1. Metaphor — Westerfeld uses metaphors extensively to draw parallels between the transformation into a Pretty and societal pressures to conform. The operation serves as a metaphor for the drastic measures people take to fit into societal norms.
  2. Symbolism — Various symbols, such as the operation, New Pretty Town, and the Smoke, represent broader themes of conformity, superficiality, and freedom, respectively. These symbols help to convey deeper meanings about society and individuality.
  3. Irony — There is a situational irony in the Pretties’ pursuit of happiness through superficial beauty, only to find themselves trapped in a shallow existence. This irony highlights the emptiness of valuing appearances over substance.
  4. Foreshadowing — Westerfeld foreshadows key plot developments, such as Tally’s eventual disillusionment with Pretty life and her growing desire to rebel, through dreams, conversations, and subtle clues.
  5. Imagery — Vivid imagery is used to describe the futuristic setting and technology, immersing readers in the world of the Uglies series and evoking strong visual impressions of the society’s aesthetic obsession.
  6. Allusion — The novel contains allusions to contemporary issues, such as environmental degradation and the ethics of genetic engineering, linking the dystopian world of Pretties to real-world concerns.
  7. Personification — Westerfeld occasionally personifies elements of the setting, such as the city or technology, imbuing them with life-like qualities that reflect the characters’ perceptions and emotional states.
  8. Flashback — Flashbacks are employed to provide background information on Tally’s past experiences and relationships, deepening the reader’s understanding of her motivations and conflicts.
  9. Diction — The choice of words reflects the societal values and characters’ states of mind, with the language used by Pretties illustrating their preoccupation with beauty and status, and the Smokies’ diction reflecting their values of authenticity and resistance.
  10. Juxtaposition — Westerfeld juxtaposes the superficial world of New Pretty Town with the natural beauty of the Smoke, highlighting the contrast between artificial and authentic ways of living.

These literary devices enhance the storytelling in Pretties, allowing Scott Westerfeld to weave a complex narrative that examines themes of beauty, identity, and resistance in a compelling and thought-provoking manner.

Literary Device Examples

Let’s explore examples and explanations for each of the top 10 literary devices used in Pretties by Scott Westerfeld, showcasing how these elements enhance the narrative and deepen the thematic resonance of the novel.


The transformation process from Ugly to PrettyRepresents societal pressure to conform to specific standards of beauty and behavior, reflecting the drastic measures individuals undergo to fit in.


New Pretty TownSymbolizes the allure and trap of superficial beauty and the empty promise of happiness through conformity.


Pretties seeking happiness in superficialityHighlights the irony of pursuing fulfillment through appearance, only to find dissatisfaction and a loss of self.


Tally’s discomfort in her new lifeForeshadows her eventual rebellion against the society’s norms and her quest for true identity.


Descriptions of the technologically advanced cityEvokes a vivid picture of the society’s obsession with aesthetics and control, painting a dystopian world focused on surface beauty.


References to environmental decayAlludes to real-world concerns about sustainability and the consequences of prioritizing aesthetics over ecological health.


The city breathingGives life-like qualities to the urban environment, reflecting its pervasive influence on the inhabitants’ lives.


Tally’s memories of her time as an UglyProvides backstory that enriches the narrative, revealing her motivations and the depth of her transformation.


Use of shallow, appearance-focused language by PrettiesIllustrates their preoccupation with beauty and status, reinforcing the society’s superficial values.


The wild, natural beauty of the Smoke versus the artificiality of New Pretty TownHighlights the contrast between authentic and manufactured ways of living, underscoring the theme of true beauty and identity.

These examples demonstrate how Scott Westerfeld skillfully uses literary devices to enrich Pretties, weaving a narrative that is both engaging and thought-provoking, encouraging readers to reflect on themes of beauty, conformity, and individuality.

Pretties – FAQs

Q: What is the main theme of Pretties?
A: The main theme of Pretties is the critique of societal obsession with beauty and conformity, exploring the consequences of valuing appearance over individuality and the journey towards self-discovery and authentic living.

Q: Who is the protagonist of Pretties?
A: The protagonist of Pretties is Tally Youngblood, a young woman who navigates the complexities of becoming a Pretty and the moral dilemmas that arise as she seeks to understand her true self beyond societal expectations.

Q: How does Pretties differ from Uglies, the first book in the series?
A: While Uglies focuses on Tally’s anticipation and struggle to become Pretty, Pretties delves into her life after the transformation, examining the psychological and societal impacts of conformity and the deeper quest for identity and resistance.

Q: What are some significant symbols in Pretties?
A: Significant symbols include the operation to become Pretty, symbolizing societal pressure to conform; New Pretty Town, representing superficiality and hedonism; and the Smoke, symbolizing freedom, authenticity, and resistance.

Q: Can Pretties be read as a standalone novel?
A: While Pretties can be enjoyed on its own, reading it as part of the Uglies series provides a deeper understanding of the characters, setting, and themes, as it builds on events and developments from the first book.

Q: What is the significance of Tally’s relationship with Zane in Pretties?
A: Tally’s relationship with Zane is significant as it represents her connection to someone who shares her doubts about Pretty society and her desire for something more meaningful. Their relationship propels Tally into actions that challenge societal norms and further her personal growth.

Q: How does Scott Westerfeld explore the concept of beauty in Pretties?
A: Westerfeld explores the concept of beauty as a societal construct used to enforce conformity and control, questioning the value placed on external appearance and highlighting the importance of inner qualities and individuality.

Q: What challenges does Tally face in Pretties?
A: Tally faces numerous challenges, including navigating her new life as a Pretty, uncovering the truth about the operation, dealing with the consequences of her actions, and ultimately deciding where her loyalties lie and what she truly values.

These FAQs provide a comprehensive overview of Pretties, offering insights into its themes, characters, and the broader narrative arc of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series.


What is the main setting of Pretties?UglyvilleNew Pretty TownThe SmokeCrumblyville
Who is Tally’s love interest in Pretties?DavidZaneShayPeris
What symbolizes societal conformity in Pretties?HoverboardsThe SmokeThe operationSpecial Circumstances
What theme is central to Pretties?AdventureTechnologyBeauty and conformityEnvironmentalism
Who helps Tally remember her true self?ZaneDavidShayDr. Cable
What is the consequence of the operation to become Pretty?Increased intelligenceMental manipulationLoss of memoryEnhanced physical abilities
Where do Tally and her friends seek freedom from societal norms?In UglyvilleIn New Pretty TownThe SmokeSpecial Circumstances Headquarters
What technology is commonly used by characters in Pretties?HoverboardsTeleportationTime machinesFlying cars

This quiz is designed to test comprehension and deeper understanding of the themes, settings, characters, and narrative elements in Pretties by Scott Westerfeld.


Identify the literary devices used in the following excerpt from Pretties:

“As Tally flew over the city, the wind whispered secrets only she could hear. The buildings below, bathed in the soft glow of twilight, seemed like silent sentinels watching over a world teetering on the brink of change. She thought about the operation, how it promised a beauty that was as fleeting as the setting sun, and realized that true beauty lay not in how others saw you, but in how you saw yourself and the world around you.”


  1. Personification – The wind is described as whispering secrets, and the buildings are seen as silent sentinels, giving them human qualities to enhance the mood and convey a sense of the city’s life and the weight of Tally’s thoughts.
  2. Imagery – Vivid imagery is used to describe Tally’s flight over the city and the appearance of the buildings in the twilight, creating a vivid picture that evokes a sense of beauty and introspection.
  3. Simile – The comparison of the promised beauty of the operation to the fleeting setting sun highlights the transient nature of such beauty, emphasizing the theme of superficiality versus authenticity.
  4. Metaphor – The operation is metaphorically linked to the setting sun, suggesting the decline of genuine individuality and the onset of uniform beauty. This metaphor extends to the idea that true beauty is internal and not dependent on external appearances.
  5. Theme – The excerpt encapsulates the theme of the search for true beauty and identity beyond societal expectations, suggesting a deeper introspective journey for Tally.

This exercise showcases how Scott Westerfeld uses literary devices in Pretties to enrich the narrative, deepen thematic explorations, and enhance the reader’s experience of the dystopian world he has created.