Thursday, July 7, 2011

Specials by Scott Westerfeld


Author: Scott Westerfeld

Publisher: Simon Pulse

4½ out of 5 stars

Note: This review assumes that you  have already read the first and second book in this series, Uglies and Pretties.  If you have not yet read Uglies and Pretties then you may not want to read this review, as it will reveal key points from the first and second book.  You can find my review of Uglies here, and my review of Pretties here.

The pain is searing but suddenly you feel more alive than you’ve ever felt before.  You sweep your gaze across the trees, and your eyes hone in on some brush.  Suddenly, everything comes into detailed focus, allowing you to see the intricate veins on each leaf.  You spot a small bird hidden within the brush using your infrared vision.  You can’t stop thinking how cool this is, when you get an incoming message.  You’re needed down by the river.  Instantly, you hop onto your hoverboard and zoom into the forest, as everything around you becomes a blur of colors.  You have only one target… capture the Pretties.

Meet the new and improved Tally Youngblood.  She can now see everything in the sharpest detail, and she even has infrared vision.  She can communicate with her fellow recruits without an interface ring, or having to talk to them face to face.  She is cunning and deceptive, willing to do anything to reach her goal.  This is because Tally is now a new breed of special Specials.  Tally is a Cutter.  Just like the name implies, Tally has a need to cut her body to feel her heightened senses to the max.  That’s the only way that she knows how to perform at her best.  But what happened to the old Tally Youngblood?  The one who was in love with Zane, and was part of the clique known as the Crims?  Well, there’s not much of her left.

Even though Tally seems inhuman, deep inside she is still the girl who used to love David, and even wanted to live in the Smoke, deep inside.  However, Tally must cast those feelings aside.  She is now part of the elite group of Specials known as Cutters.  Their job is to track down the New Smoke, and ultimately bring it down.

There is one thing that Tally could never forget, and never feel more strongly about.  That is Zane.  As a Cutter she looks down on all of the Uglies and Pretties, but Zane is an exception.  After he was brought back to New Pretty Town he was almost beyond repair, as his motor skills and hand-eye coordination were very badly damaged.  But Tally wants Zane to be a Cutter, just like her.  That way they will be able to be together, and he will feel all that Tally does every day.

Tally and Shay, the head Cutter and Tally’s long-time best friend, take on a new mission to follow a group of runaway Pretties to the New Smoke. However, things aren’t going as planned, and what Tally discovers about the New Smoke is astounding!  It could change the balance between Uglies and Pretties forever.  Which side will Tally choose to fight for?  Her past, or her new special Special lifestyle?  Scott Westerfeld reveals all in this slashing and gripping adventure, Specials!

This book had me enthralled as I watched how different Tally had become!  Tally was almost not Tally anymore.  She was now a Cutter, and with that came a whole new mindset.  Tally has become one of those Specials that she always used to fear.  I’ve got to say that this book held so many shocking turns of events in its pages.  Specials delivers, in its own interesting way.

One aspect that I enjoyed very much was the characters.  I liked how they were still the same people, yet many of them seemed to have entirely new personalities, and bodies as well.  For example, there is Zane.  Zane, who was a Pretty who felt like he had to discover more and break out of his Pretty shell.  He used to be so strong and sure in his decisions and movements, but now he has trouble walking long distances and can’t even ride a hoverboard like he used to.  There is also David, who seems to be so much more hardened then his old caring self.  And there are the Cutters.  Every single one of them seems to be a whole different person entirely in body and mind.  They are nothing like they used to be, and have to cut themselves just to bring their new senses into focus.

However, this was one aspect that I didn’t like at times.  That’s because it made Tally feel so indifferent to all of the people that she used to care for.  I was upset at how she couldn’t even seem to bring herself to look at Zane, let alone even kiss him.  She just felt too repelled by his weak body, even though he was still the same person.  This made me really sad to see Tally behave this way, as she used to really care for Zane and love him.  Also, the way in which she looked down on everyone was just so unlike her.  I didn’t like this one bit.  Of course there is a reason for her unsympathetic outlook on life, but you’ll have to read the book to find that out.

The ending to Specials is phenomenal, and throughout the last half of the book, everything seems to be revealed.  I realized what everyone’s motives were, and why they did certain things.  I must say that Scott Westerfeld ends Specials in a way that could lead to another book, or be the last one in this futuristic series.  There is another book in this series, Extras, that takes place in this same world, but with some new characters as the main focus.

Overall, Specials concludes Uglies and Pretties nicely, and puts Tally’s legacy to an end.  Tally realizes that her world will never be the same with the spur of change just on its way.  Join Tally as she chooses between the way things have always been, and the revolution that was bound to take place in, Specials!

-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!

Check out Scott Westerfeld's website at


  1. Specials was probably my least favorite of the Uglies books (Extras doesn't count to me, lol). Still, I remember really enjoying it, just like you did. Fabulous review! :)

  2. I definitely need to reread this series. Details are fuzzy for me but I know I liked them the first time around haha. Have you read Robin Wasserman's Skinned series? It's also set in a sort of futuristic society. If you liked the Uglies I think you'd like it!

  3. I skimmed this review as I haven't read the series yet but it's so nice to hear you felt it was concluded well. I hope to read the series soon!

  4. Lauren M- Oh, really? Hmm, I enjoyed Specials a lot, but I still think either Pretties or Uglies is my favorite in the series. Haha, I know what you mean about Extras. All of Westerfeld's readers were so surprised when he decided to come out with another book in the Uglies series. Many of them were like, do you know what the definition of a trilogy is? Haha, I'm glad he wrote Extras though!

    Laura (All of Everything)- I definitely think you would enjoy these a second time around if you reread them ;p I've heard of the Skinned series and it looks SO GOOD! I could never find the first book though, but I'll definitely make sure to check them out. Thanks for the recommendation! :)

    Aylee- I hope you get a chance to read this one soon, and I think you would enjoy it!

  5. Specials is a great book and there were so many surprises in it that I could not believe. I really liked the ending because it seemed to me that the three versions of Tally came together to create her stance on the world. Thanks for the review!

  6. I second the surprises! There were so many, and they definitely kept me on my toes. I love how you put it! You described what I thought of the ending perfectly! It's sad to think that Tally's story is over, but I can't wait to read Extras :)

  7. I finally have this complete series and I can't wait to get started on it! I had just received Specials when I saw your review, but have been caught up in unpacking, reading, getting my kids registered for school blah, blah, blah! Just didn't want you to think I forgot you!!

    Great review! I kind of had a concept of what the series was all about, now I know more. I love Scott Westerfeld. His blog, his books. I'll get to it soon!


  8. Oh, I cannot wait to hear what you think of the whole series! Specials was a great conclusion to the trilogy, and Extras is a sort-of companion novel with some new, and old, characters. Thanks for stopping by, Heather!


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