Today I want to talk about the book Uglies, which I just finished. But I have to warn you that there will be spoilers. So if you don’t want to know stuff, go read the book BEFORE reading this post. And yes, it is worth reading. So much so that when I visit the library again I’ll be looking for the next two books in the series.
But back to surprise. This, more than anything, is what I loved about this book and what I learned, as a writer. And here’s how it happened.
I was reading along, enjoying the book until it seemed like Tally was going to betray her new friends. I just couldn’t believe it. Really? She was going to sell them out just to be pretty? What a shallow little…
Anyway, I went on-line to Amazon to check out the reviews of the other two books, not sure if I wanted to read them knowing Tally was a little tattle tail and cared only about being ‘pretty’ to boot. And I happened to see that she’d become what she feared; one of the Specials, not just pretty, but beautifully cruel and crazy fast and strong. Why? I wondered. What had made her make her this choice?
So I went back to the book and read on out of curiosity and found myself surprised by every turn, by the choices Tally makes, and especially by how the first book ends. See, I thought she was going to betray her friends. But she doesn’t. At least not on purpose. And then I thought, ah, here’s where she gets caught and turned into a Special. But that wasn’t what happened either. And then, near the end, when she’s reunited with David (her crush/love interest), I thought for sure Maddie had already told him how Tally betrayed them. But she didn’t, leaving Tally to fess up instead.
And here’s the point, the reason why I’m telling you about this book – besides the fact that it illustrates so perfectly how obsessed we all are with being perfect/pretty. It’s because it surprised me. Instead of doing the obvious, which the author could easily have done and still made his point, he surprised me. And after the first time, I had a feeling he was going to do it again. And there is nothing I like better than loving a book AND being surprised by it.
So kudos to David Westerfield and Uglies. Not only does he make an amazing point about the shallowness of our media saturated society (among other things), but he also managed to surprise me time after time, left me hankering for the next installment, AND reminded me that as a writer, there is no better way to make the reader love you than to surprise him.