Review – Extras by Scott Westerfeld

extras“Aya set her jaw.  ‘I’m a Sly Girl now, Eden.  Didn’t you hear?’

‘Yeah, I heard your little speech.’  Eden floated higher, looming over her like a giant.  ‘I just hope you were telling the truth, because real life’s not like some Rusty movie, Aya-chan.  There’s not one big story that makes the rest of us disappear.’

Aya narrowed her eyes.  ‘But you’re not in the background.  You’re famous!’

‘You can disappear in front of a crowd, too, you know.  Once they start telling you what to do, who to be friends with….  Out here…, I get to keep something for myself.'”

Extras is an extension of the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, which is set in the distant future, when our own society, the world of the “rusties”, has been destroyed and an extra cautious society where people’s brains are modified to keep the peace has replaced it.  Extras takes place a few years after Tally Youngblood, the main character of the first three books, has started a revolution.  The brain modifications have been removed and people are thinking for themselves again.  Some societies, like that of Aya, have taken the concept just a little too far, creating an insane place where people are constantly vying for attention to gain more points to become more famous and more popular.

… Except it’s not that insane.  Westerfeld has taken our own fascination with ourselves, what with blogging, Twitter, Facebook and whatever new thing they’ve concocted recently, and has multiplied it to the extreme.  It’s not insane, it’s not unbelievable.

I have to say it, I liked Extras as much as Uglies, if not more.  I loved Aya with her mixture of curiosity, innocence and confusion over the world she lives in and I loved maturing with her as she slowly realized that her society may not be perfect, that popularity and being famous are not the most important part of life.  I loved how carefully constructed this society was and how well it fit into the Uglies universe.  Maybe it’s just because Westerfeld is the most familiar with his world at this point, that it feels fuller and more believable.  I think I was also drawn to the real world implications a little bit more than I was in Uglies.  At some points in Uglies, I felt a little preached to.  Yes, I should save the environment; yes, I should think for myself.  In Extras, that wasn’t necessarily the case.  The “message” felt more seamless.  The idea that popularity can’t get you everything, even in a society that is designed to do just that, was a fact, and like Aya, eventually we had to figure it out for ourselves.

91% – Read the whole series just to read this book!

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