Sunday, January 2, 2011

Extras (Uglies Series #4) by Scott Westerfeld

Synopsis: Fame. It's a few years after rebel Tally Youngblood took down the uglies/pretties/specials regime. Without those strict roles and rules, the world is in a complete cultural renaissance. "Tech-heads" flaunt their latest gadgets, "kickers" spread gossip and trends, and "surge monkeys" are hooked on extreme plastic surgery. And it's all monitored on a bazillion different cameras. The world is like a gigantic game of American Idol. Whoever is getting the most buzz gets the most votes. Popularity rules. As if being fifteen doesn't suck enough, Aya Fuse's rank of 451,369 is so low, she's a total nobody. An extra. Her only chance to escape extra-land is to find a big story to kick--something wild and unexpected. Then Aya meets a clique of girls who pull crazy tricks, yet are deeply secretive of it. But the Sly Girls are hiding something bigger--an explosive discovery that may change the face of the brave new world forever. If Aya kicks this story, she'll be propelled into the world of fame, celebrity...and extreme danger. A world she's not prepared for.

Extras doesn't focus on Tally anymore. It's more of an add-on to the trilogy that focused on Tally. This is about Aya and the world that Tally has left in her wake after destroying the uglies/pretties/specials regime, like the synopsis says. The new world after Tally is totally different than the world we're introduced to in the first three books. Everything has changed, and the loss of "bubbleheads" is affecting their economy and way of life. Old traditions are coming back, extreme surgeries are gone, and there is mixing of uglies and pretties, at least during the day. They must start to adapt to the new freedom, and they do that by expanding the cities dangerously fast and building a new economy. As in, the fame and cameras. They have merits that you earn by being famous or by doing good work around the community. 

This story was partly better than Specials (see my review here) because it goes faster than Specials. You are instantly propelled into the world of extras and the cameras. The first 200 pages went by really fast, but not in a bad way. It was a little action packed, mostly focusing on how Aya puts her stories together and figuring out the economy. Then they meet these alien-like people and it goes slower as Aya doesn't listen to Tally and she starts to look a little moronic. I didn't like Aya as much as Tally. She doesn't grow really, at all. She's so sucked up into this virtual world that she doesn't believe life on the outside and that fame could be a bad thing. It really bugged me, but the plot made up for Aya.

There are three main side characters: Hiro, Aya's older brother; Ren, Hiro's best friend; Frizz, Aya's boyfriend. They don't seem to grow either, but they are more intelligent than Aya and are fine without the cameras. They understand the predicament more than Aya does and seem to listen better than she does. They're not so much fame-obsessed as Aya is, and I liked them a lot better. Tally only comes in at the end and you can tell that she still hasn't fully cured herself of the Special mind. She wars with herself and still has anger flashes.

Overall, Extras was a great final installment in the Uglies series. The first two parts went by fast, and the last part dragged on. The plot was messed up, though, as I thought the entire thing was about the Sly Girls and another government plot. But it turned completely around in the second part of the book and it confused me for awhile. But I finally got back into the swing of things, but the story was still confusing. They kept switching from believing the alien-people and not believing them. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't one of the best.

The Cover: I still like the incorporation of people, and Aya really was described like the girl on the cover. Her eye mainly showing I didn't really get, but now I understand that it's supposed to be like a camera, giving you the feel of always being watched. This cover somewhat freaked me out, but I thought it was still put together well. Although I thought the blue background on the back cover kind of ruined the mood. I didn't think it quite fit.

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