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Reading Discussion Guides

Uglies, Pretties, Specials by Scott Westerfeld

About the Book

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.

Discussion Questions

  • On your sixteenth birthday, how would you feel about being forced to have the surgery to become pretty? Would you feel like Tally or like Shay? If your best friend asked you to not have the surgery, what do think you would have chosen to do?
  • 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 would you like to own? What were your favorite slang words in the series?
  • 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?
  • 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?

Extension Activities

  • 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.
  • 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 each.


Scott Westerfeld
Age Level:
Middle Grade