By Scott Westerfeld
Sweet Sixteen has an all-new meaning in this futuristic society, where children are born “ugly” (that is to say, normal) and on their sixteenth birthday they get a life-changing operation that makes them gorgeous. “New pretties,” as they are now called, spend their days having parties and shooting fireworks and having a good time. Tally can’t wait until she “turns Pretty,” but just days before her sixteenth birthday, her best friend runs away to a place called “Smoke.” City authorities have been searching for the Smoke for a long time, and now they give Tally an ultimatum — find her friend and betray the Smoke, or never turn Pretty at all!
Profanity = PG
There is no profanity in this book, but there is some name-calling. In fact, derogatory name-calling is standard among the youth of this society. It is not necessarily offensive to the reader, but children might latch onto it.
Sexuality = PG
While there is some kissing in this book, it is very tame (e.g. “They kissed.”).
Violence = PG
There is a fire, and scenes where people are fighting. Violence as an action is generally minimal, with the reader usually being shown only the after-effects (e.g. bruises).
Religion = None
No mention is made of religion in this book. It is simply not dealt with.
Writing Style =
The writing didn’t really make an impression on me one way or another. The author tells you just enough to provide some sort of picture, but does not really “paint” a scene. The flow of action is steady, but not terribly gripping.
Overall Review =
For the first two-thirds of this book, I was rather apathetic to the plot and the characters. I didn’t feel terribly engaged, although the premise was interesting. I kept reading mostly because I didn’t have anything better to read. The last third of the book picked up pace, and I was sufficiently interested by the end that I will probably read the sequel. All-in-all, a decent book, but probably a one-time read.
I think this book is best-suited for girls aged middle-school to high-school. Younger children will probably find it boring; adults might find it of passing interest. Boys will probably not identify with the story well.