Series: Uglies #3Spoilers for those who haven't read books 1 and 2.
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: School library Goodreads//Amazon
"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.
Continuing from the synopsis:
We know that Tally will never be the same, because every book in this series brought with it a new and weirder change. First we had Tally as an Ugly, escaping to New Smoke. Then we had her taken back to Pretty Town and turned into a Pretty. Following Prettifying, we had Tally think her way around the brain lesions that caused the typically apathetic, insensitive, and drunken--or, should I say 'bubbly'?--Pretty behaviour. Now we have her turned into a Special, with so many different powers it just blows my mind.
It seemed to me like the author was really running out of plot ideas, and since having Tally as a regular Pretty was just kind of boring, he just had to make her more cutting-edge, more tricky, more special than ever.
Specials was the sort of book that I read with the primary purpose of simply finishing, because I'd already invested in the trilogy by reading Uglies and Pretties, which, come to think of it, probably wasn't a smart decision. If only the author had chosen to direct all the effort he'd put into writing about gadgets and parties to character development, the series would've been so much more readable.
Sadly, the characters were flat and tired by the end of the books, Specials peaked to a disappointing climax, and I found myself having to take continuous breaks from the novel, which was so much different to the compulsive and highly readable Uglies. It seemed like the author was getting tired at the end, and instead of taking the harder route and carefully exploring character development, Tally's emotional changes, and the interesting concepts of body image and the mind and its consciousness that he'd brought into this dystopian trilogy, we are left with nothing but a shallow recess of action.
Another issue was the love triangle. I've written about the seemingly meaningless plots and subplots that the author used to avoid dealing with messy character developments, but the love triangle was really out of place. In an action novel, focus on the action. In a character-driven novel, focus on the characters and their relationships. But really, at the heart of the Uglies trilogy is nothing but a constant tangle of action and fighting with the occasional bout of world-building thrown in. The love triangle, apart from being a major annoyance on my part and a frustrating development in Tally's character, honestly had no place in either book.
Overall, Specials really exhausted me. I found myself putting off reading it--telling myself that I'd finish it later, later, but not wanting to pick it up because I'd had enough of the constant, nonstop action, the laziness and lack of character development, and the constant whinging in Tally's narration. This is not a book that I'd recommend to anyone but fans of intense action. If you liked The Knife of Never Letting Go you might like this one--again, a read that failed to impress me when it came to depth and thoughtfulness.