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Westerfeld, Scott. Specials.

WESTERFELD, Scott. Specials. (Uglies Trilogy, Volume Three.) Simon & Schuster. 384p. c2006. 0-689-86540-6. $15.95. JS*

This final volume opens with Tally, Shay, and their friends, who have been transformed again from frivolous pretties into Specials: their senses honed, their bodies almost indestructible, their nails and teeth filed weapon-sharp. They are designed to live in the wild, outside the city's rules. Their mission? Find the community of revolutionaries called the New Smoke and stop the influx of pills that cure the city-mandated "bubblehead" operation, allowing pretties to think for themselves. When Tally and her friends reach the New Smoke, they rind it's more powerful than they could have imagined--and the stakes in the conflict between Smokies and Specials are much higher.

Westerfeld is a master of grey areas. The underlying question in Uglies and Pretties--is the bubblehead operation so bad if it means no war, hatred, or environmental destruction?--is given center stage, with no neat solution at the end. But despite the large-scale implications of their choices, Westerfeld doesn't lose sight of his characters' inner struggles. What does it mean for Tally to "be herself" when she's constantly being manipulated by those around her? Being Special is a rush of power, but is it just another version of the mind-control used on pretties? By the end, Tally finally makes the difficult decision to choose her own path. This is a thrilling, painful, and ultimately satisfying finale to the best YA SF in years. Happily, the door is left wide open for future installments. Samantha Musher, Assist. Libn., Dana Hall Sch., Wellesley, MA

J--Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers.

S--Recommended for senior high school students.

*--The asterisk highlights exceptional books.
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Author:Musher, Samantha
Article Type:Book review
Date:May 1, 2006
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