Book Review : Specials by Scott Westerfeld

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Specials by Scott Westerfeld

Product details
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK, March 2010
  • ISBN-10: 1847389082
  • ISBN-13: 9781847389084
  • Ages: 12 and up

"Special Circumstances":

The words have sent chills down Tally's spine since her days as a repellent, rebellious ugly. Back then Specials were a sinister rumor -- frighteningly beautiful, dangerously strong, breathtakingly fast. Ordinary pretties might live their whole lives without meeting a Special. But Tally's never been ordinary.

And now she's been turned into one of them: a superamped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid.

The strength, the speed, and the clarity and focus of her thinking feel better than anything Tally can remember. Most of the time. One tiny corner of her heart still remembers something more.

Still, it's easy to tune that out -- until Tally's offered a chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat, or carry out the mission she's programmed to complete. Either way, Tally's world will never be the same.

"Specials"...special as the word sounds, it is actually a term used to acknowledge a unique kind of people who are created to aid the Special Circumstances in keeping the pretties stupid, and the uglies out of trouble.

Tally Youngblood is now a Cutter (a special type of Special), and her brain has been altered to capture the slightest imperfection in others. Being a cutter, Tally enjoys the privileges of changing her appearance as she like. However, she is now very sensitive towards the frailties of human nature and cringes at the very sight of Zane's trembling hands. At last, she decides to listen to Shay's order to carry out a seemingly impossible mission and secretly help Zane to become a Special. The one thing that she doesn't know is that the consequences of her reckless actions will endanger others... and maybe lead to their doom.

This book makes a good ending to the Uglies trilogy. It is not a really happy ending, but I enjoyed it fairly well. Even though Tally is now a Special, she still has to go through the many events that are similar to real-life happenings, such as love, life and death of someone close as she chooses the path that leads her to her future. You will discover that peace is one thing which is hard to obtain and hard to maintain. It can only be reached if two opposing forces are willing to make a pact and tolerate one another. In Specials, humanity is brought to a new level with the help of Tally and her friends, and is given a fresh start.

The author delivers a few messages regarding human nature and teenage issues via this book. First of all, there is this "humanity is a cancer" thing. In the book, humans destroyed their own kind because of their selfishness and greed about three centuries ago. This is to enlighten readers about the problems in nature that have arisen nowadays. Secondly, there is this pretty-ugly contrast which reveals the fact that the current society has a tendency to judge people by their appearance over their hearts, admiring the ones who seem pretty and gorgeous and loathing the idea of ugliness. I was horrified when I read the part where Tally and her fellow Cutters practice self-mutilation by cutting their arms with a knife to achieve an "icy" feeling. This is one of the teenage issues in our society. Some teenagers will intentionally injure their body without suicidal intent. Basically, this is caused by mental illness, psychological factors or the effects of drugs. I believe Scott includes these issues so that we can have a better view of some of the atrocious things that some people actually do.

In a nutshell, I'm satisfied with Specials, and I will recommend it to fans of Uglies and Pretties. Even though I have heard some negative comments about Specials, I still enjoyed it nonetheless because the middle part to the ending was really good and fast-paced, despite the flaws that are found at the beginning at the novel. Specials managed to reach my expectations, and I hope to read more books by Scott Westerfeld in the future.

Rating: 3.685

My deepest gratitude to Kathryn from Simon & Schuster UK for sending me a paperback copy of Specials for this review! Thank you, Kathryn!

Scott Westerfeld was born in Texas, and received a BA in philosophy from Vassar in 1985. He splits his time between New York City and Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Midnighters, Uglies, So Yesterday and Peeps. You can visit Scott Westerfeld's website to know more about him.

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Simon & Schuster UK :: The Book Depository

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