In a futuristic world built on the ruins of our own where extreme cosmetic surgery makes everyone beautiful, some people stand out for other reasons.
Tally Youngblood has always been special. She uncovered, betrayed, and ultimately aligned herself with a resistance group known as The Smoke while she was an Ugly. Her Pretty clique, The Crims, changed life in New Pretty Town forever and sparked the beginnings of revolution.
But Tally doesn’t care about any of that anymore. Because she’s a Special, part of the elite group of enforcers known as Special Circumstances. Enhanced to be a deadly predator, Tally doesn’t want to hurt you. But she will if she has to in Specials (2006) by Scott Westerfeld.
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Tally didn’t plan on becoming Special, let alone joining Special Circumstances after being exploited by the group for so long (two whole books!). But when her best friend, Shay, and the Cutters become Specials, Tally once again finds herself at the mercy of other people’s plans.
When one of Tally and Shay’s botched schemes leads to the first all out war since ancient times, Tally and the Cutters will have to race against the clock to prevent the inevitable. As Tally struggles to save her world from the ravages of war, will she be able to save herself?
I really love all of Scott Westerfeld’s books. Because he’s awesome. That said, the Uglies trilogy (not including its companion book Extras) lost momentum for me as the series progressed with this one being the slowest, and in a lot of ways the most disappointing, of the three.
On her blog Westerfeld’s wife and fellow YA author Justine Larbalestier recently mentioned reviews suggesting that Specials starts off slow despite its being filled with insane action sequences which she thinks is a silly thing to suggest. Which is true. Specials is jam packed with new technology, epic battles, and action-packed chases. Unfortunately that doesn’t leave a lot of room for character development or “real” (by which I mean not involving a chase or battle) plot development.
While the conclusion of Specials shakes Tally’s world to its very core, the plot is strikingly (and annoyingly) similar to the premise of Pretties once you change some of the slang and substitute settings. In summary, I was excited to see how the trilogy ended, of course, but without the first two books Specials is nothing special.
Possible Pairings: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis, Skyhunter by Marie Lu, Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien, 1984 by George Orwell, The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson, Technopoly by Neil Postman, Divergent by Veronica Roth, The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, Life After People (documentary/television series)