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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book review: Specials

This is the third book in the "Uglies" series by Scott Westerfeld.

Synopsis:
  "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.
Review: This is definitely not my favourite book of the series, but I really enjoyed reading it.
In my opinion, this book mostly focuses on Tally and her struggle to (re)discover herself and to break free from the mental chains that bind her. This book is mostly about the importance of individuality and personal identity, it's about the importance of freedom, it's about making choices and being ready to suffer the consequences of said choices. It's about what it means to be free and what being free can lead to. This is the book that forces you to think about all of those things, that forces you to face important questions, that forces you to understand what lead to the creation of a supposedly utopian society based on an oppressive government.
One of the aspects I particularly like about "Specials" is the whole characterization and growth that Tally experiences as a character. Throughout the series she has gone through so much I think she ended up loosing a bit of herself in the process. I mean, in the end of this book she does overcome her brain lesions, but it comes with a price: a part of herself, a part of her personality. 
I feel that every time Tally undergoes any sort of operation and, inevitably, gets her brain damaged, even though she recovers, she loses, slowly and yet visibly, a bit of who she truly is. In the end, there is barely nothing left of the original Tally, the Tally we knew in "Uglies".
Her basic traits are still there, but she is too damaged, too cold and rational to be the Tally we had once known. She has been far too butchered to remain being that young girl. And yet, I couldn't help but like her even more because of all this. She's different, that's true. But those changes didn't occur out of thin air, you see them happening and you understand why they do happen. You understand why Tally says what she says, and does what she does, and thinks what she thinks. You understand all of that because, even though in the beginning she can't see nor comprehend it herself, we realize that, once more, she has been a victim of the system. She has been transformed, and she is damaged again.
In the beginning, it was quite frustrating to realize what had happened to her while she couldn't see it for herself. But as soon as the pace of the book started to pick-up, this detail only adds to complexity of the plot.
Overall, I think this was a very well written book that managed to wrap-up the series quite beautifully (and even though I do know there's still one more book - which I'm quite excited to read - I see it as more of an add-up that anything else, and since it doesn't exactly follow Tally's story, I think I can say "Specials" wrapped-up hers quite well). It brought tears to my eyes on several occasions and I felt I had my heart on my throat, from the beginning to the end of the book.
I give it 5 out of 5★!

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