Monday, January 7, 2008

SPECIALS by Scott Westerfeld

Okay, I'm back to give this thing another shot. Gah. That sucked losing my entire post. Especially because I had managed to slog my way through a synopsis (you know how much I struggle to write them, no matter the low quality of the results (g)). Anyway, I just couldn't muster the energy to write it all over again... so let's see what I can come up with this time, shall we? (g)

Once again, this contains major spoilers for UGLIES and PRETTIES. "Read more" at your own risk. (Oh, btw. I recently discovered that the hidden part of this message is showing up on google reader. Sorry about that! I wanted to make sure people had to hit an extra button to get to the actual review...sigh. Technology. (g))


by Scott Westerfeld
Young Adult Fantasy

Brief Synopsis: Last we left Tally Youngblood, she had finally escaped her Pretty world. Fulfilling his pledge to her, David managed to sneak the Pretty cure into New Pretty Town. However, too scared to take the drug alone, she split the pills between herself and Zane. A big mistake. She didn't know that both pills were meant to be taken together: the first would unleash nano's into her system to eat the lesions on her brain causing her Pretty-mindedness. The second would signal those nano's to stop. Without the second pill, the nano's will keep right on eating your brain, essentially destroying it without pause. Without the first, NOTHING will happen. So, who got which pill?

Well, if you read PRETTIES, you know that Tally took the second, leaving Zane to the much more dangerous first pill. They do manage to escape together, but Zane was left in serious trouble, his brain likely having suffered a great deal of damage during the time it took them to plan and make their escape. Tally, however, managed to somehow break out of her Pretty world all on her own.

They get to the Smokies...Tally was reunited with David (a bit of a disappointing reunion, IMHO) and all is well, right? NOT SO. The Specials managed to track them. But more disturbing is the fact that Shay is now a Special...and well, when they capture Tally, she thinks Tally will be really Special, too.


SPECIALS picks up a couple of months later. Tally has been made Special, part of a special unit called the Cutters. This is a group of former Uglies who proved themselves to be extra tricky, apparently a key attribute the Specials seek in new recruits. Shay is the leader, and in order to get an extra boost of "icy" thoughts, they cut themselves. The group operates outside the usual rules--built to the live in the wild...superhuman and adrenaline junkies.

When Tally's thoughts keep returning to Zane, who disappeared after their capture, Shay vows to help make him Special. Maybe then Tally will be happy with her new life. Shay's plan is to help Zane escape to the New Smoke, proving he is tricky enough to be Special. Of course, they'll capture him themselves. However, he's weak from the Pretty cure and it's doubtful whether he can do it on his own. And, capturing Zane means bringing down the New Smoke--and David.


This book was fantastic. Right from the get go, it was chilling to watch Tally with her new way of thinking. She's a Cutter, through and through. And man, she wants to take down the Smokies like no other. But the great thing is that there were still _hints_ of the true Tally beneath it all. She never really gave up on Zane and it was good to see her cling to his memory, despite her programming to think like a Cutter.

Once again, I fell right into this world. And once again Westerfeld showed us more of it--this time through a Special's eyes. So rich and wonderful...scary and disturbing...all at once. When I finished chapter one, I knew there would be no putting this sucker down... and there wasn't. And boy did it deliver.

I won't go into too much detail because I do NOT want to spoil anyone's experience. But it took some great turns throughout...some really marvelous, some heartbreaking. To see the change in relationships, their viewpoints and thoughts... man, it just really packed a wallop.

The ending was a little so-so. I don't know if it was because it lacked something or if I simply wasn't ready for this series to end. I do think it was _a little_ rushed....almost too abrupt to leave me with a satisfied sigh at the end. (Though, I LOVED one big aspect of where he left it. (VBG)) That said, I walked away from this series with this sort of ache in my chest. Dude, DON'T END!!!! *cries* LOL. Okay, technically it didn't end...but you know what I mean. A series that takes up with another character is never quite the same.

At any rate...bravo, Mr. Westerfeld.

Buy or Rent? BUY. RUN!

P.S. I've decided to hold off on EXTRAS for now. I just want to let this series marinate for a while.


Hélène Boudreau said...

Averting my eyes!

Specials came in before Pretties at the library, so hopefully Pretties will arrive in the next three weeks before I have to return Specials so I don't have to read them out of order!

Gonna read 'Thirteen Reasons Why' and 'Absolutely true diary of a part-time indian' first, tho.

Oh, and write my book. doh!

Jen said...


LOL..I know, it's easy to forget that I have my own book to write, too. (g) Too many good reasons to slack off recently. :)


May said...

hey umm specials wasnt the lst of the series!! there was another one called Extras its about a girl named AYA but she meets Tally and DAvid in it

Jennifer Hendren said...


Yeah -- I know about EXTRAS. I just wasn't ready to have the focus switch to other characters, so I held off on reading it. :) I have it on audio, tho, and I'll probably give it a shot one of these days.

Thanks for dropping by!