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Specials (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

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Overview

"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, ...

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Specials (Uglies Series #3)

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Overview

"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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bringing the Uglies trilogy to a close, Specials by Scott Westerfeld follows Tally Youngblood, first met in Uglies (which PW said "introduces thought-provoking issues"), as she is turned into a Special, a high-octane fighting machine, programmed to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid. Can she listen to the small voice in her head or will she destroy New Smoke's residents? Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This long awaited third book will not disappoint fans of the science fiction Scott Westerfield trilogy. Tally Youngblood, the once rebellious Ugly and then troublemaking Pretty, is now a member of the Cutters—a new group of special Specials created by Dr. Cummings herself and lead by Tally's best friend, Shane. The Cutters were created in order to search out and destroy the New Smoke and most of the old Crims are now members. True to her character, however, Tally has trouble fully accepting what it means to be a Cutter without Zane by her side and demands to see him and help his case. When she sees the new Zane, Tally is horrified by how she reacts to his "prettiness" and lack of special qualities, yet she is determined to prove that Zane, the once level-headed leader of the Crims, should be made into a Cutter too. Shane and Tally use Zane and his group of runaways in order to locate the New Smoke, only to discover that it is so much more than any of them could have imagined. It is an entire city just like theirs, only there are limitless possibilities, no bubbleheads, and no Specials. Tally finds that she and the other Specials are not feared in this new and strange city. Instead, she is a monster and a hazard to those around her. Amid a war that she created, Tally has to come to grips with who she is. Can she overcome this newest surgery and cure herself once again from the brain operation, which this time has turned her into a fearless killer? This trilogy will captivate readers of all ages of readers from beginning to end. A new-age science fiction novel, it will find its place in the classroom as well as for independent reading. 2006, SimonPulse/Simon & Schuster, Ages 12 up.
—Jeanna Sciarrotta
VOYA
I liked the book by itself, although as the ending to the trilogy, I found it lacking in resolution and in important details. The plot was complicated and only problems associated with this book were resolved. Some of the characters were unsympathetic, and I didn't care about them. In the other books, the same characters were important ones, which I liked. But as a whole, I enjoyed the book and I recommend it for eighth and ninth graders. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Simon Pulse/S & S, 384p., Ages 11 to 18.
—Liza M. David
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-This final installment in the series is a warning of the dangers of overconsumption and conformity. Set some time in the future, after a human-made bacteria destroyed the modern world, the trilogy tells of new cities established and tightly controlled through brainwashing and a series of operations leading to a compliant society. Tally Youngblood, the 16-year-old protagonist, learns in the first two books that free will and truth are more important than a false sense of security. In Specials, she has become an elite fighting machine, fully enhanced with nanotechnology and super-fast reflexes, and made to work as a Special Circumstances agent for the nameless city that she fled. As in the first two books, much of the story takes place with characters whizzing through the air on hoverboards, but Tally and her friends are in for some harsh realities here. Readers who enjoyed Uglies and Pretties (both S & S, 2005) will not want to miss Specials, but those who have not read those books will not understand much of what is happening. Westerfeld's themes include vanity, environmental conservation, Utopian idealism, fascism, violence, and love. In this trilogy, the author calls for a revolution in our hearts and minds-think The Matrix.-Corinda J. Humphrey, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Tally's third incarnation is thrillingly unsettling. When readers left her, she was about to be surgically altered from a "Pretty" to a carefully engineered military "Special." Now her body is weaponized, her teeth, fingernails and reflexes razor-sharp. Westerfeld deftly conveys Tally's new perspective: Edges look extra sharp, the world is maniacally beautiful and Dr. Cable's pursuit of the New Smoke rebels is inherently justified, especially because the New Smoke's irresponsible medical experimentation damaged Tally's boyfriend Zane and made him repulsive. Tally and Shay are Cutters, elite Specials who slice their skin to stay hyper-focused. As they track runaways to find the New Smoke, the previously two-sided fight expands into a war with multiple stances and complications, on a far broader scale than Tally could have guessed. Tally's in constant motion, the action nonstop, all the way until-paralleling the stunning end of Uglies-Tally makes an unromantic, pragmatic and desperate final decision. A splendid, provocative conclusion to a terrific series. (Science fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780606224871
  • Publisher: Demco Media
  • Publication date: 5/28/2011
  • Series: Uglies Series , #3
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: THIS EDITION IS INTENDED FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY
  • Pages: 350
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld most recent novels are Leviathan and Behemoth, the first two books in a new trilogy. His other novels include the Uglies series, the Midnighters trilogy, The Last Days, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and the sequel to Peeps. Scott was born in Texas, and alternates summers between Sydney, Australia, and New York City. Visit him on the Web at scottwesterfeld.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Specials


By Scott Westerfeld

Simon Pulse

Copyright © 2007 Scott Westerfeld
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781416947950

1: CRASHING A BASH

The six hoverboards slipped among the trees with the lightning grace of playing cards thrown flat and spinning. The riders ducked and weaved among ice-heavy branches, laughing, knees bent and arms outstretched. In their wake glowed a crystal rain, tiny icicles shaken from the pine needles to fall behind, aflame with moonlight.

Tally felt everything with an icy clarity: the brittle, freezing wind across her bare hands, the shifting gravities that pressed her feet against the hoverboard. She breathed in the forest, tendrils of pine coating her throat and tongue, thick as syrup.

The cold air seemed to make sounds crisper: The loose tail of her dorm jacket cracked like a wind-whipped flag, her grippy shoes squeaked against the hoverboard surface with every turn. Fausto was pumping dance music straight through her skintenna, but that was silent to the world outside. Over its frantic beat Tally heard every twitch of her new monofilament-sheathed muscles.

She squinted against the cold, eyes watering, but the tears made her vision even sharper. Icicles whipped past in glittering streaks, and moonlight silvered the world, like an old, colorless movie come flickering to life.

That was the thing about being a Cutter: Everything was icy now, as if the world were opening her skin.

Shay swooped in beside Tally, their fingers brushingfor a moment, and flashed a smile. Tally tried to return it, but something shifted in her stomach as she looked at Shay's face. The five Cutters were undercover tonight, black irises hidden under dull-eyed contacts, cruel-pretty jaws softened by smart-plastic masks. They had turned themselves into uglies because they were crashing a bash in Cleopatra Park.

For Tally's brain, it was way too soon to be playing dress-up. She'd only been special a couple of months, but when she looked at Shay she expected to see her best friend's new and marvelous cruel beauty, not tonight's ugly disguise.

Tally angled her board sideways to avoid an ice-laden branch, breaking contact. She concentrated on the glittering world, on twisting her body to slip the board among the trees. The rush of cold air helped her refocus on her surroundings rather than the missing feeling inside herself -- the one that came from the fact that Zane wasn't here with the rest of them.

"One party-load of uglies up ahead." Shay's words cut through the music, caught by a chip in her jaw and carried through the skintenna network, whisper-close. "You sure you're ready for this, Tally-wa?"

Tally took a deep breath, drinking in the brain-clearing cold. Her nerves still tingled, but it would be totally random to back out now. "Don't worry, Boss. This is going to be icy."

"Should be. It is a party, after all," Shay said. "Let's be happy little uglies."

A few of the Cutters chuckled, glancing at each other's fake faces. Tally became aware again of her own millimeters-thick mask: plastic bumps and lumps that made her face zitted and flawed, covering the gorgeously spinning web of flash tattoos. Uneven dental caps blunted her razor-sharp teeth, and even her tattooed hands were sprayed with fake skin.

A glance in the mirror had shown Tally how she looked: just like an ugly. Ungainly, crook-nosed, with baby-fat cheeks, and an impatient expression -- impatient for her next birthday, the bubblehead operation, and a trip across the river. Another random fifteen-year-old, in other words.

This was Tally's first trick since turning special. She'd expected to be ready for anything now -- all those operations had filled her with icy new muscles and reflexes tweaked to snakelike speed. And then she'd spent two months training in the Cutters' camp, living in the wild with little sleep and no provisions.

But one look in the mirror had shaken her confidence.

It didn't help that they'd come into town through the Crumblyville burbs, flying over endless rows of darkened houses, all the same. The random tedium of the place she'd grown up in gave her a sticky feeling along the inside of her arms, which wasn't helped by the feel of the recyclable dorm uniform against her sensitive new skin. The manicured trees of the greenbelt seemed to press in around Tally, as if the city were trying to grind her down to averageness again. She liked being special, being outside and icy and better, and couldn't wait to get back to the wild and strip this ugly mask from her face.

Tally clenched her fists and listened to the skintenna network. Fausto's music and the noises of the others washed over her -- the soft sounds of breathing, the wind against their faces. She imagined their heartbeats at the very edge of hearing, as if the Cutters' growing excitement were echoing in her bones.

"Split up," Shay said as the lights of the bash grew close. "Don't want to look too cliquey."

The Cutters' formation drifted apart. Tally stayed with Fausto and Shay, while Tachs and Ho broke off toward the top of Cleopatra Park. Fausto adjusted his soundbox and the music faded, leaving only rushing wind and the distant rumble of the bash.

Tally took another nervous breath, and the crowd's scent flashed through her -- ugly sweat and spilled alcohol. The party's dance system didn't use skintennas; it blasted music crudely through the air, scattering sound waves into a thousand reflections among the trees. Uglies were always noisy.

From her training, Tally knew that she could close her eyes and use the merest echoes to navigate the forest blind, like a bat following its own chirps. But she needed her special vision tonight. Shay had spies in Uglyville, and they'd heard that outsiders were crashing the party -- New Smokies giving out nanos and stirring up trouble.

That's why the Cutters were here: This was a Special Circumstance.

The three landed just outside the strobing lights of the hoverglobes, jumping off onto the forest's floor of pine needles, which crackled with frost. Shay sent their boards up into the treetops to wait, then fixed Tally with an amused stare. "You smell nervous."

Tally shrugged, uncomfortable in her ugly-dorm uniform. Shay could always smell what you were feeling. "Maybe so, Boss."

Here at the party's edge, a sticky bit of memory reminded her how she always felt arriving at a bash. Even as a beautiful bubblehead, Tally had hated the trickle of nerves that visited whenever crowds pressed in around her, the heat of so many bodies, the weight of their eyes upon her. Now her mask felt clingy and strange, a barrier separating her from the world. Very unspecial. Her cheeks flashed hot for a second beneath plastic, like a rush of shame.

Shay reached out to squeeze her hand. "Don't worry, Tally-wa."

"They're only uglies," Fausto's whisper sliced through the air. "And we're right here with you." His hand rested on Tally's shoulder, gently pushing her forward.

Tally nodded, hearing the others' slow, calm breaths through the skintenna link. It was just like Shay had promised: The Cutters were connected, an unbreakable clique. She would never be alone again, even when it felt like something was missing inside her. Even when she felt the lack of Zane like head-spinning panic.

She plunged through the branches, following Shay into the flashing lights.

Tally's memories were perfect now, not like when she'd been a bubblehead, confused and muddled all the time. She remembered what a big deal Spring Bash was for uglies. The approach of spring meant longer days for tricks and hoverboarding, and lots more outdoor parties to come.

But as she and Fausto followed Shay through the crowd, Tally felt none of the energy she remembered from last year. The bash seemed so tame, so listless and random. The uglies just stood around, so shy and self-conscious that anyone actually dancing looked like they were trying too hard. They all seemed flat and artificial, like party extras on a video wall, waiting for the real people to arrive.

Still, it was true what Shay liked to say: Uglies weren't as clueless as bubbleheads. The crowd parted easily, everyone sliding out of her way. However zitty and uneven their faces, the uglies' eyes were sharp, full of nervous stabs of awareness. They were smart enough to sense that the three Cutters were different. No one stared for too long at Tally or realized what she was behind her smart-plastic mask, but bodies moved aside at her lightest touch, shivers playing across their shoulders as she passed, as if the uglies sensed something dangerous in the air.

It was easy seeing the thoughts ripple across their faces. Tally could watch the jealousies and hatreds, rivalry and attraction, all of it written on their expressions and in the way they moved. Now that she was special, everything was laid out clearly, like looking down on a forest path from above.

She found herself smiling, finally relaxing and ready for the hunt. Spotting party-crashers was going to be simple.

Tally scanned the crowd, searching for anyone who seemed out of place: a little too confident, overmuscled, and suntanned from living in the wild. She knew what Smokies looked like.

Last fall, back in ugly days, Shay had run away into the wild to escape the bubblehead operation. Tally had followed to bring her back, and they'd both wound up living in the Old Smoke for a few long weeks. Scrabbling like an animal had been pure torture, but her memories came in handy now. Smokies had an arrogance about them; they thought they were better than people in the city.

It took Tally just seconds to spot Ho and Tachs across the crowded field. They stood out like a pair of cats gliding through a waddling flock of ducks.

"You think we're too obvious, Boss?" she whispered, letting the network carry her words.

"Obvious how?"

"They all look so clueless. We look . . . special."

"We are special." Shay looked back at Tally over her shoulder, a grin playing on her face.

"But I thought we were supposed to be in disguise."

"Doesn't mean we can't have fun!" Shay suddenly darted away through the crowd.

Fausto reached out and touched Tally's shoulder. "Watch and learn."

He'd been special longer than she had. The Cutters were a brand-new part of Special Circumstances, but Tally's operation had taken the longest. She'd done a lot of very average things in her past, and it had taken a while for the doctors to strip away all the built-up guilt and shame. Random leftover emotions could leave your brain muddled, which wasn't very special. Power came from icy clarity, from knowing exactly what you were, from cutting.

So Tally hung back with Fausto, watching and learning.

Shay grabbed a boy at random, yanking him away from the girl he was talking to. His drink sloshed onto the ground as he started to pull away in protest, but then he caught Shay's gaze.

Shay wasn't as ugly as the rest of them, Tally noticed, the violet highlights in her eyes still visible even through her ugly disguise. They glittered like a predator's in the strobe lights as she pulled the boy closer, brushing against him, a flex of muscles gliding down her body like a flick through a rope.

After that, he didn't look away again, even as he handed off his beer to the random girl, who looked on open-mouthed. The ugly boy placed his hands on Shay's shoulders, his body starting to follow her movements.

People were watching them now.

"I don't remember this part of the plan," Tally said softly.

Fausto laughed. "Specials don't need plans. Not sticky ones, anyway." He stood close behind Tally, his arms around her waist. She felt his breath on the back of her neck, and a tingle started moving through her body.

Tally pulled away. Cutters touched one another all the time, but she wasn't used to that part of being a Special. It made her feel even stranger that Zane hadn't joined them yet.

Through the skintenna network, Tally could hear Shay whispering to the boy. Her breathing deepened, though Shay could run a klick in two minutes without breaking a sweat. A sharp, unshaven sound sliced through the network when she brushed her cheek against the boy's, and Fausto chuckled when Tally flinched.

"Relax, Tally-wa," he said, rubbing her shoulders. "She knows what she's doing."

That much was obvious: Shay's dance was spreading, sucking in the people around her. Until now, the party had been a nervous bubble hovering in the air, and she'd popped its surface tension, releasing something icy inside. The crowd started to pair off, arms wrapping around each other, moving faster. Whoever was crewing the music must have noticed -- the volume went higher, the bass deeper, the hoverglobes overhead pulsing from blackness to blinding radiance. The crowd had started jumping up and down with the beat.

Tally felt her heart accelerate, amazed at how effortlessly Shay had brought them all along. The bash was changing, flipping inside out, and all because of Shay. This wasn't like their stupid tricks in ugly days -- sneaking across the river or stealing bungee jackets -- this was magic.

Special magic.

So what if she was wearing an ugly face? Like Shay always said in training, the bubbleheads had it all wrong: It didn't matter what you looked like. It was how you carried yourself, how you saw yourself. Strength and reflexes were only part of it -- Shay simply knew that she was special, and so she was. Everyone else was just wallpaper, a blurred background of listless chatter, until Shay lit them up with her own private spotlight.

"Come on," Fausto whispered, pulling Tally away from the thickening crowd. They retreated toward the party's edge, sliding unseen past the eyes locked on Shay and her random boy. "You go that way. Stay sharp."

Tally nodded, hearing the other Cutters whisper as they spread out across the party. Suddenly, this all made sense. . . .

The bash had been too dead, too flat to cover the Specials or their prey. But now the crowd's arms were up, waving back and forth with the beat. Plastic cups flew through the air, everything a storm of movement. If the Smokies were planning to crash the party, this moment was what they'd been waiting for.

Moving was tricky now. Tally made her way through a swarm of young girls -- practically littlies -- all dancing together with eyes closed. The glitter sprayed across their uneven skin flashed in the hoverglobes' pulsing light, and they didn't shiver as Tally pushed through them; her special aura had been drowned out by the party's new energy, by Shay's dance-magic.

The ugly little bodies bouncing against hers reminded Tally how much she had changed inside. Her new bones were made from aircraft ceramics, light as bamboo and hard as diamonds. Her muscles were sheathed whips of self-repairing monofilament. The uglies felt soft and unsubstantial against her, like stuffed toys come to life, boisterous but unthreatening.

A ping sounded inside her head as Fausto boosted the skintenna network's range, and snatches of noise drifted through her ears: screams from a girl dancing next to Tachs, a rumbling beat from where Ho stood close to the speakers, and under it all the distracting things Shay was whispering in her random boy's ear. It was like being five people at once, as if Tally's consciousness were smeared across the party, sucking in its energy in a blend of noise and light.

She took a deep breath and headed toward the edge of the clearing, seeking the darkness outside the hoverglobes' light. She could watch better from out there, keep better hold of her clarity.

As she moved, Tally found it was easier to dance, going with the crowd's motion rather than forcing a path through it. She allowed herself to be pushed randomly through the throng, like when she let high wind currents guide her hoverboard, imagining herself a bird of prey.

Closing her eyes, Tally drank the bash in through her other senses. Maybe this was what being special was really all about: dancing along with the rest of them, while feeling like the only real person in the crowd. . . .

Suddenly, hairs stiffened on the back of Tally's neck, her nostrils flaring. A scent, distinct from the human sweat and spilled beer, sent her mind reeling back to ugly days, to running away, to the first time she'd been alone out in the wild.

She smelled smoke -- the clinging reek of a campfire.

Her eyes opened. City uglies didn't burn trees, or even torches; they weren't allowed to. The party's only light came from the strobing hoverglobes and the half-risen moon.

The scent must have come from somewhere Outside.

Tally moved in widening circles, casting her eyes over the crowd, trying to find the source of the smell.

No one stood out. Just a bunch of clueless uglies dancing their heads off, arms flailing, beer flying. No one graceful or confident or strong . . .

Then Tally saw the girl.

She was slow-dancing with some boy, whispering in his ear intently. His fingers twitched nervously across her back, their movements unconnected to the music's beat -- the two looked like littlies on an awkward playdate. The girl's jacket was tied around her waist, as if she didn't mind the cold. And along the inside of her arm lay a pattern of pale squares where sunblock patches had been stuck.

This girl spent a lot of time outside.

As Tally moved closer, she caught the scent of wood smoke again. Her new and perfect eyes saw the coarseness of the girl's shirt, woven from natural fibers, lined with stitched seams and giving off another strange smell . . . detergent. This garment wasn't designed to be worn and then tossed into a recycler; it had to be washed, lathered up with soap, and pounded against stones in a cold stream. Tally saw the imperfect shape of the girl's hair -- cut by hand with metal scissors.

"Boss," she whispered.

Shay's voice came back sleepily. "So soon, Tally-wa? I'm having fun."

"I think I got a Smokey."

"You sure?"

"Positive. She smells like laundry."

"I see her now," Fausto's voice cut through the music. "Brown shirt? Dancing with that guy?"

"Yeah. And she's tanned."

There was an annoyed, distracted sigh, a few mumbled apologies as Shay disentangled herself from her ugly boy. "Any more?"

Tally scanned the crowd again, making her way around the girl in a wide circle, trying to catch another whiff of smoke. "Not as far as I can tell."

"Nobody else looks funny to me." Fausto's head bobbed nearby, winding his own path toward the girl. From the other side of the bash, Tachs and Ho were closing in.

"What's she doing?" Shay asked.

"Dancing, and . . ." Tally paused, her eyes catching the girl's hand slipping into the boy's pocket. "She just gave him something."

Shay's breath cut off with a little hiss. Until a few weeks ago, Smokies had brought only propaganda into Uglyville, but now they were smuggling something far more deadly: pills loaded with nanos.

The nanos ate the lesions that kept pretties bubbleheaded, ramping up their violent emotions and raw appetites. And unlike some drug that would eventually wear off, the change was permanent. The nanos were hungry, microscopic machines that grew and reproduced, more of them every day. If you were unlucky, they could wind up eating the rest of your brain. One pill was all it took to lose your mind.

Tally had seen it happen.

"Take her," Shay said.

Adrenaline flooded Tally's bloodstream, clarity blanking out the music and the motion of the crowd. She'd spotted the girl first, so it was her job, her privilege to make the grab.

She twisted the ring on her middle finger, felt its little stinger flicking out. One prick and the Smokey girl would be stumbling, passing out like she'd had too much to drink. She'd wake up in Special Circumstances headquarters, ready to go under the knife.

That thought made Tally's skin crawl -- that the girl would soon be a bubblehead: pretty, beautiful, and happy. And monumentally clueless.

But at least she'd be better off than poor Zane.

Tally cupped her fingers around the needle, careful not to stab some random ugly in the crowd. A few steps closer, and she reached out with her other hand, pulling the boy away. "Can I cut in?" she asked.

His eyes widened, a grin breaking out on his face. "What? You two want to dance?"

"It's okay," the Smokey girl said. "Maybe she wants some too." She untied the jacket from around her waist, pulling it up over her shoulders. Her hands went through its sleeves and into the pockets, and Tally heard the rustle of a plastic bag.

"Knock yourself out," the boy said, and took a step back, leering at them. The expression brought another flash of heat into Tally's cheeks. The boy was smirking at her, amused, like Tally was average and anyone's to think about -- like she wasn't special. The uglifying smart plastic on her face began to burn.

This stupid boy thought Tally was here for his entertainment. He needed to find out otherwise.

Tally decided on a new plan.

She stabbed a button on her crash bracelet. Its signal spread through the smart plastic on her face and hands at the speed of sound, the clever molecules unhooking from each other, her ugly mask exploding in a puff of dust to reveal the cruel beauty underneath. She blinked her eyes hard, popping out the contacts and exposing her wolfen, coal black irises to the winter cold. She felt her tooth-caps loosen, and spat them at the boy's feet, returning his smile with unveiled fangs.

The whole transformation had taken less than a second, barely time for his expression to crumble.

She smiled. "Buzz off, ugly. And you" -- she turned to the Smokey -- "take your hands out of your pockets."

The girl swallowed, spreading her arms out to either side.

Tally felt the sudden rush of eyes drawn to her cruel features, sensed the crowd's dazzlement at the pulsing tattoos that webbed her flesh in scintillating black lace. She finished the arrest script: "I don't want to hurt you, but I will if I have to."

"You won't have to," the girl said calmly, then she did something with her hands, both thumbs turning upward.

"Don't even think . . . ," Tally started, then she saw too late the bulges sewn into the girl's clothes -- straps like a bungee jacket's, now moving of their own accord, cinching themselves around her shoulders and thighs.

"The Smoke lives," the girl hissed.

Tally reached out . . .

. . . just as the girl shot into the air like a stretched-taut rubber band let go from the bottom. Tally's hand passed through empty space. She stared upward, open-mouthed. The girl was still climbing. Somehow, the bungee jacket's battery had been rigged to throw her into the air from a standstill.

But wouldn't she just fall straight back down?

Tally spotted movement in the dark sky. From the edge of the forest, two hoverboards zoomed over the bash, one ridden by a Smokey dressed in crude skins, the other empty. At the top of the girl's arc, he reached out, hardly slowing as he pulled her from midair onto the riderless board.

A shudder went through Tally as she recognized the Smokey boy's jacket, leather and handmade. In a searing flash from a hoverglobe, her special vision caught the line of a scar running through one of his eyebrows.

David, she thought.

"Tally! Heads up!"

Shay's command pulled Tally from her daze, drew her eyes to more hoverboards shooting over the crowd at just above head level. She felt her crash bracelet register a tug from her own board, and bent her knees, timing the jump for its arrival.

The crowd was pulling away from her, shocked by her cruel-pretty face and the girl's sudden ascent -- but the boy who'd been dancing with the Smokey grabbed for her. "She's a Special! Help them get away!"

His try for her arm was slow and clumsy, and Tally flicked out her unspent stinger to stab his palm. The boy pulled his hand back, stared at it with a stupid expression for a moment, then crumpled.

By the time he hit the ground, Tally was in the air. With two hands on the grippy edge of her hoverboard, she kicked her feet up onto its riding surface, her weight shifting to bring it around.

Shay was already on board. "Take him, Ho!" she ordered, pointing down at the unconscious ugly boy, her own mask disappearing in a puff of dust. "The rest of you, with me!"

Tally was already zooming ahead, the chill wind sharp against her bare face, an icy battle cry building in her throat, hundreds of faces looking up at her from the beer-soaked ground, astonished.

David was one of the Smokies' leaders -- the best prize the Cutters could have hoped for on this cold night. Tally could hardly believe he had dared come into the city, but she was going to make sure he would never leave again.

She weaved among the flashing hoverglobes, soaring out over the forest. Her eyes adjusted swiftly to the darkness, and she spotted the two Smokies no more than a hundred meters ahead. They were riding low, tipped forward like surfers on a steep wave.

They had a head start, but Tally's hoverboard was special too -- the best the city could manufacture. She coaxed it onward, brushing the tips of the wind-tossed trees with its leading edge, smashing them into sudden plumes of ice.

Tally hadn't forgotten that it was David's mother who had invented the nanos, the machines that had left Zane's brain the way it was. Or that it was David who'd lured Shay into the wild all those months ago, had seduced first her and then Tally, doing everything he could to destroy their friendship.

Specials didn't forget their enemies. Not ever.

"I've got you now," she said.

Copyright ©2006 by Scott Westerfeld



Continues...


Excerpted from Specials by Scott Westerfeld Copyright © 2007 by Scott Westerfeld. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Read More Show Less

Introduction

Uglies/Pretties/Specials

by Scott Westerfeld

About the Books

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. Westerfeld's books have won many nominations and awards as well as a huge fan following of teens everywhere. Uglies was named a 2006 Best Book for Young Adults by the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association.

Discussion Topics

On your sixteenth birthday, how would you feel about being forced to have the surgery to become pretty? Would you feel like Tally — looking forward to being beautiful and bubbly — or like Shay — wanting to escape the surgery and stay ugly, but remain herself? If your best friend asked you to not have the surgery, what do think you would have chosen to do?

What elements of the Smoke remind you of a camping trip you've taken or one you've seen on TV or in a movie? What advice would you give the Smokies about living in the wild?

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 owngovernment? 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 — a hoverboard, a sneak suit, SpagBol — would you like to own? What were your favorite slang words in the series?

What do you think was the pivotal point in each of the three books? What would you change about them?

What are Tally's strongest assets and her tragic flaws? What about Shay? David? Zane?

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?

If the Uglies series was made into a movie, who would you cast to play the part of Tally? Shay? David? Zane? Peris? Dr. Cable? Where in the world do you think it should be filmed? Who would be the best director for this project?

Who was your favorite character in the series? How did you feel about how they ended up at the end of Specials? Which character do you think is the most like you or your friends?

Imagine that David decided to live in the city of Diego. What challenges would he face there, having grown up in the wild? What would a day in the life of David in Diego be like? Do you think he'd get used to his new life, or decide to return to his old one?

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?

Activities

Design your own hoverboard. First make a blueprint including what kinds of gadgets you would include in its secret compartments, then make a prototype using cardboard, paper towel rolls, markers, etc.

Act out a scene from one of the books. Assign parts to each participant and choose your favorite scene — maybe Tally's first trip to New Pretty Town to visit Peris, the invasion of the Smoke by Special Circumstances, or the destruction of the Armory.

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.

Put yourself in Dr. Cable's shoes. Take turns telling the Specials story from her point of view and include what you think her motives were behind her actions in the previous two books.

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.

Look at the covers of Uglies, Pretties and Specials. Then re-draw your own version of each of the covers highlighting your favorite scene from each book.

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

Uglies/Pretties/Specials

by Scott Westerfeld

About the Books

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. Westerfeld's books have won many nominations and awards as well as a huge fan following of teens everywhere. Uglies was named a 2006 Best Book for Young Adults by the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association.

Discussion Topics

On your sixteenth birthday, how would you feel about being forced to have the surgery to become pretty? Would you feel like Tally — looking forward to being beautiful and bubbly — or like Shay — wanting to escape the surgery and stay ugly, but remain herself? If your best friend asked you to not have the surgery, what do think you would have chosen to do?

What elements of the Smoke remind you of a camping trip you've taken or one you've seen on TV or in a movie? What advice would you give the Smokies about living in the wild?

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 owngovernment? 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 — a hoverboard, a sneak suit, SpagBol — would you like to own? What were your favorite slang words in the series?

What do you think was the pivotal point in each of the three books? What would you change about them?

What are Tally's strongest assets and her tragic flaws? What about Shay? David? Zane?

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?

If the Uglies series was made into a movie, who would you cast to play the part of Tally? Shay? David? Zane? Peris? Dr. Cable? Where in the world do you think it should be filmed? Who would be the best director for this project?

Who was your favorite character in the series? How did you feel about how they ended up at the end of Specials? Which character do you think is the most like you or your friends?

Imagine that David decided to live in the city of Diego. What challenges would he face there, having grown up in the wild? What would a day in the life of David in Diego be like? Do you think he'd get used to his new life, or decide to return to his old one?

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?

Activities

Design your own hoverboard. First make a blueprint including what kinds of gadgets you would include in its secret compartments, then make a prototype using cardboard, paper towel rolls, markers, etc.

Act out a scene from one of the books. Assign parts to each participant and choose your favorite scene — maybe Tally's first trip to New Pretty Town to visit Peris, the invasion of the Smoke by Special Circumstances, or the destruction of the Armory.

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.

Put yourself in Dr. Cable's shoes. Take turns telling the Specials story from her point of view and include what you think her motives were behind her actions in the previous two books.

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.

Look at the covers of Uglies, Pretties and Specials. Then re-draw your own version of each of the covers highlighting your favorite scene from each book.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 903 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(580)

4 Star

(191)

3 Star

(94)

2 Star

(22)

1 Star

(16)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 905 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 22, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Specials

    I can honestly say, this is Scott Westerfeld's finest. It was published by Simon & Schuster publishing division, and made the New York Times best seller list. You could say it was one of his best books yet. Enough suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat and enough humor to keep you interested. The 'Uglies' series is my favorite series, and this is my all time favorite book in the series.

    Tally still doesn't believe it's true. But according to the doctors, Dr. Cable, and the Crims, Tally has become special. Not just special, a Cutter. The coolest clique around. She had an operation, to make her frighteningly beautiful, dangerously strong, and breathtakeningly fast. A newly programmed robot, but a robot with a past. Looking at herself in the mirror, Tally doesn't recognize the person standing across from her. It wasn't about fitting in or her new appearance, it wasn't that her bones were light as bamboo and tough as diamonds, or even that the smokies were taking over the town. She was missing something. She was missing Zane.

    Tally was in a new clique. Crims was way old news. Tally was now a cutter, cutting herself gave her an 'icy' feeling that kept her excited, happy, and entertained. The gashes and scars on her arms and hands only made her that much scarier. But Tally and her old friend Shay have gotten some bad news; news that could destroy the world completely. She has to fight for love, strength, and friendship. But with Zane in the hospital from brain damage, Tally trying to focus only becomes harder when all she can think about is Zane getting better. She begins to think herself out of 'special-mind'. She starts thinking as she did as an ugly. That just makes her life a whole lot more complicated.

    There has not been a war in the world for at least 300 years. The pretty minds were supposed to keep people stupid so they would not take risks. But when a cure comes-a pretty cure--that makes the pretties think and the Uglies understand, not only your looks change during the operation, your mind changes. Tally then has to choose whether her special-ness makes the world a better place, or if everything she worked for has just been a huge mistake.

    You must read this book, it's the best thing that happened to the 'Uglies' series. Reading this book is not only entertaining and exciting, it could actually happen. Showing how much everyone depends on technology and the adventures of a girl who just decided looks weren't everything, makes this book unforgettable. Reading this will give you a whole new look on the world, and it will become your favorite book in the first chapter.

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 11, 2009

    Why Did It Have To End This Way?

    This book was a major disappointment to someone who, like me, loved Uglies and Pretties. As the final book in the trilogy I was expecting some glorious ending but instead I was left with a mundane closing to Tally's adventure from ugly to rebel special. The whole time I was reading Specials I felt like I was being set up for something that never came.

    13 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    amazing but sad book

    This book, best out of the tree in my opinion, is one of the best books I have ever read before. It is thrilling and emotional and excellent and very hard to put down. In some parts it gets very frustrating and very sad, but the book is still amazing nonetheless. Everyone must read this book, and the whole series, of course!!

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2008

    LOVED it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I loved this book. IT was amazing. Probally my favorite. I started this tril. w/ Pretties then Uglies. I then read this book. It was AMAZING! I liked Extras too but this one is by far my favorite. You need to read it b/c it is good and has a little bit of everything.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    disapointment

    I read uglies in 3 days and pretties in a week. I thought that it was going to be the same for specials. boy was i wrong. I got about half way and it was so bad that I couldn't finsh it and ended up never finishing it. I am going to read one more book by scott westerfield because I know he is A amazing writer just not in specials.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2008

    Westerfeld keeps it up..

    I read books pretty fast, I'll admit. But 'The Uglies' series was so amazing, I think I read about 60 mph FASTER (if that's even possible..) This book, though, was probably my favourite/least favourite. In the Uglies && The Pretties, Tally was so self-concious, weak, fragile, etc. But with every book, you could see her grow stronger and more aware. In 'Specials,' Tally spices up her relationships, finds herself, and goes through a lot of pain (which explains why its my least favourite. I can only cry so much, you know.) But this book was absolutely amazing and it a must-read.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2008

    ?????????????

    The book was outstanding as was the rest. it was sort of a copy of the last few books but it was still great. the plot, the characters,everything in this story drew me in. it is extraordinary as were the others.i would recommend this book to anyone. The only thing i hated was the suprise with Zane which wont say just in case someone is reading this and has not read he book. I was so upset. I thought they must have been joking. I think i was gonna cry because i was so into the story when it happened. Zane was my favorite character and i am sad that they did that to him. I bet you can guess what it is. are you not outraged? Other then that disappointment the rest was amazing and i had it done before the day ended.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

    Ugh

    I loved the first book, the second book was okay, but i couldnt even finish this one. It was so boring and cliche, i lost interest very quickly.

    Its just blah.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2012

    Spoiler

    Why did Zane have to die!!! He was like my fav charater! And now hes gone.... BTW I would deeply apreciate some simpathy here.

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 26, 2009

    dissappointment

    Read uglies in a day...pretties the next...enjoyed each of them for what they were...could not wait to get to the next book...but I was thoroughly disappointed when the book ended. Truly the worst ending to a series I have ever experienced. Not sure if i will ever read Extras.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2008

    my favroite book ever

    I am in love with this book it's very intersing The plot us amazing i couldnt put this book down this is my all time fav book ever.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2008

    read it, Read It, READ IT!!!

    I luv this book soooo much!! It is the best book I've ever read!!! It is action-packed and adventure filled!!! Everyone should read it!!!

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2008

    A fantastic book!!!!!!

    This book has to the best book in the series! It is awesome! Uglies was great. Pretties was greater. But Specials is the greatest!!!!!!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2012

    Good

    Okay, Specials. Where do I begin? Of course, Westerfeld did it again. This book is amazing, yet it had me tearing out my hair and throwing the book across the room at parts. I love the world and characters Westerfeld created, yet I grew frustrated at times. Overall, this was one heck of a series. It is truely amazing how an author can take one character (Tally) and make her change personlities. Amazing. 5 stars. A must read series.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Review from Worn Pages and Dusty Shelves

    Specials is by far the best in the series. I can't wrap my brain around how awesome it is...and that's saying a lot. Tally gets another operation that she doesn't want and ends up a special Special. Dr. Cables group of specials, that is. Along with Shay, Fausto, and other Crims (all of which are now specials and are now called Cutters) they're out hunting Smokies, trying to stop the spread of the cure. At least, that's how it is up until their plan goes awry. This time, Tally really confused me. She has so much going on, so many things conflicting, it was hard to decide if I liked the new Tally or hated her. She didn't have Zane to keep her grounded. She had only the Cutters to rely on. Even though she's a special, deep down, she's always Tally and I couldn't help but like her. Zane, my cool cat, isn't a special. I don't want to say too much, but he still has cognitive problems thanks to taking the wrong cure pill in Pretties. Zane doesn't have much face time in Specials and neither does David for that matter. That's truly the only problem I have with the Uglies series. Her love interests don't have enough time in all the books. I like David, I like Zane. Tally likes David, Tally likes Zane and vice versa. Do you see the problem? Tally has been cut up, manipulated, and she still can't get a decent kiss in with a love interest. Now that, my friends, is just criminal. Once again Tally is tromping through the the wilderness and saving people and trying to 'rewire' herself. The girl can't catch a break no matter what she does. Tally's adventure this time is actually my favourite out of all three books. She has so much to get over and I feel so terribly sorry for her because of it. All throughout the book you can see the change that being a special has done to her as she's trying to cure Zane, find the New Smoke, it's all just breathtaking (and heartbreaking) at what she has to do. There's a lot of stuff blowing up, people jumping off of buildings, causing trouble, and basically just trying to save the world from being brainless Pretties. You definitely won't be disappointed in Specials.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2008

    Best of the series

    i loved this book the most. i loved tough tally. not that she hadnt always been tough. it kind of bothered me how she thought kind of different,but that changed. good good book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2008

    Specials

    Tally really changes straight from the beginning and throughout the book. Not just her completely new, dazzling and powerful looks, but also her personality, and her thinking. The change was so sudden it almost seemed that Tally was a whole new different person, maybe with a Dr. Cable brain in her. She seemed kind of unnatural, although it somewhat was. Specials had a great storyline and great characters. Although some parts of it was kind of slow, the action and suspense in other parts made it worth it. Events in this book were so sudden at times, like at the very end or when she arrives at Diego and she returning to Special Circumstances. Altogether this book was nicely put together and I really enjoyed reading it. The ending was more satisfying than the first two books, Uglies and Pretties, but i just wish Extras was more about Tally also.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2013

    Best book Ive ever read

    Most amazing story line ever! It really pulls you in and you never want to stop reading it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2013

    O my god

    Jfhgryydhffygfhkehbblkhfeaeguihfdfhjvfzassfn.ljggbjh

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2012

    ???

    Shiuld i get the book? I read the first and second ones but i dont know if i should get this one or not.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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