Spoiler Warning

Book reviews and discussions may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

New Book Noms?

I know this month is busy for everyone, so I thought we'd take it really slow in December. I'm asking for some book noms now, but I'm expecting slow responses. No prob. We'll take it slow this time, you gize. Baby steps.

So, believe it or not, I've been doing a little research, reading a Brazilian books, looking for the perfect one to nominate. I thought I found a good one, I was devouring it, but then the ending was like "whoa wha?" So now I don't think I can put my good name behind it, ya know? I've heard some talk about this other book called Nation, by Terry Pratchet, but I haven't read it, so I can't say if it's excellent. I think I'm gonna actually read the book this time before I go off and nominate it. The problem is, nothing is ever as good as the immortal Hunger Games, so I'm really having a hard time finding something.

Also, according to Amazon, Suzanne Collins is releasing a book in May 2009. It's called 12, but I can't find any other information on it. At first, I thought it was the sequel to The Hunger Games, and I was squealing with joy because I thought the sequel probably won't be released until Sept 2009. But then I did a quick google search and found out that the title of the 2nd book is Catching Fire, and it will in fact be released in Sept. 2009. So... 12, huh? What in the name of son of a gun is she doing you gize?

EDIT:
OMG you gize, I found this hilarious Hunger Games fan faction that takes off from where S. Collins left off at the end of the book. It's a must read. Lollerz.

EDIT EDIT:
Whoa wait, I just realized that Katnis was in District 12 so maybe this is the sequel to Hunger Games? Am I a huge nerd you gize?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Winner!

As you know, Katie won our little Uglies contest for the Ugliest picture. Congrats Katie!

Your prize is...

...next month's book club book free!

Lucky!

I'm also gonna throw in The Huger Games by Suzanne Collins, because it's a cryin' shame that you haven't read that book.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Missed Discussion

So I was travelling on a work trip and missed the whole on-line discussion and the announcement and everything else.

But I still want to play so I am going to post my comments here:

1) The book was written by a man so of course he doesn't know how to make his character say what women want him to say. David could make gloves out of leather, implying not only superb hunting but excellent skinning skills. He also had calluses and could find his way around without a map, both apparent marks of a real man. The reason everyone here loves Edward and Peeta (or Jacob or Gale) is because women know better how to create unrealistic expectations of men.

2) The idea that everyone looks normal and then requires an operation to "equalize" the playing field makes me feel non-special since I spent my whole life trying to develop skillz rather than try to focus on pretty-making (since it seemed hopeless at some point). It further reinforces a stereo type (even though it seems like he is trying to make it non-important) that being pretty is what makes one person better than another. The best part of the books and in my opinion the entire point is very understated in book 3 when in a very flippant manner Tally says something about how everyone knows it is your self-confidence that is the most pretty-making. I would have loved the series if that would have been the point because I believe that is kinda true. Oh I didn't read Extras so please let me know if I need to read that and shut my yapper right now.

3) I loved the whole concept of the 'rusties' though and the, again, subtle idea that a virus in the petroleum would end our society. Heh.

4) Smokies would have been an awesome idea if they actually lived the way that we do--they should have been called 'burbies' or something because the smoky concept only appeals to campers of which I am not one. Camping every once in awhile is fun but... yeah.

5) I am also bothered that we were meant to love Zane because he was smart and pretty. Oh I will say that I think Scott Westerfield is encouraging people to rebel against societal norms in a big way. Probably designed to be an insurrectionist novel for adolescent angsty types.

In the end, I considered them excellent reads and a fun way to fill time. I liked them for myself but would be hesitant to have someone from the intended audience, teenagers, to read them since I don't think the messages of rebellion, acting dangerous to clear your mind, or wanting to be pretty more than anything else are messages to help people overcome being the ugly one in school.

My recommendation to Scott Westerfield is to write a parallel series entitled "Funnies" to highlight that being funny, not pretty, is what should happen at the age of 16. Kids would be encouraged to read joke books, hang out with the landersons, and learn magic tricks. After all, not everyone can be funny.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Uglies Discussion:

Put on your interface rings and lets do some discussion-making in the comments.

I found these stimulating questions written by the esteemed Mr. Westerfeld himself, for the purpose of bookclub discussions:

1. Have you ever had a friend like Peris, who abandoned your friendship after they moved away?

2. At first, did you hope Tally would get the operation? When did you change your mind? (Or did you?)

3. Have you ever found yourself trusting someone more or paying more attention to what they said not because they deserved it, but just because of their looks?

4. In what ways did Tally’s trip through the wild prepare her for what she learned in the Smoke?

5. Would you give up your ability to think independently in exchange for being happy, beautiful, perpetually healthy, and rich?

6. How did David see Tally differently than she saw herself?

7. If Shay could have gone back in time and never have met Tally, do you think she would?

8. Other than the pretty operation, what are the main differences between the pretty society and our own? (Are there any ways in which the pretty society is healthier than ours?)

9. To what extent did Tally decide her own fate, and how much did other people decide it for her?

10. The Rusty civilization collapsed because of its dependence on oil. In what ways is your lifestyle dependent on oil and gasoline? How easily would you survive if it all disappeared one day?

Enjoy!

-scott

From the sound of him, I'm thinking Scott Westerfeld is pretty hot you gize!

UGLIES

Damn environmentalist! I read all three and that's all I have to say.

Uglies




Well I guess I'll start out by saying I read all the books in like four days and for the most part I really loved them. When the Uglies started I also thought it was going to end up being about Tally wanting to be with Zane but him not even caring because she was ugly. I actually liked the direction the book went in when she met Shay and found out about the smoke.

For me I never pictured the characters being ugly I just thought of them as people like you or me who were brainwashed to only look at all their flaws. The Pretties were just perfected versions of normal people. So naturally I thought David was pretty hot.

I loved the technology they had in the book with the hoverboards, bungee jackets, and interface rings. The action got pretty good at the end with the specials taking everyone from the smoke and Tally and David having to rescue them in the end. I also loved Tally and David as characters. It is really hard for me to judge their actions from this book having read the other two.

I never liked Shay from the beginning she just was kind of annoying to me. I was a little disappointed that Peris didn't play a bigger role in the book since Tally spent so much time thinking about him.

Spagbol sounds unfun-making to me now even though I've never had it.

There were some wierd words in this book, Spagbol, littlies, Crims. I was reading about it on the website and I guess they are all real slang words in Australia.

Anyway I can't think of too many things I dislike because I really did love these books. My favorite one was Pretties but Specials was pretty Icey too. Now I guess I just have the movie to look foward too. That's right it's supposed to come out in 2011 so I'm pretty excited


In a world of extreme beauty, anyone normal is ugly...

...and anyone ugly is getting that surgery to turn pretty. And fast. As it should be.

I had high hopes for this book, and the first 31 pages were encouraging: Best friends, one ugly, one pretty. The ugly one crushin' on the pretty one big time, the pretty one barely tolerating the sight of the ugly one, and a river with a tattle-telling bridge between them. Yes, in those first 31 pages, I was very interested to know what would become of ugly Tally Youngblood and her childhood BFF, pretty Peris Whatshisface.

But the book didn't exactly take us in that direction. Instead, Tally stumbles upon ugly Shay, and Peris is soon forgotten as Tally and Shay become best friends (very unconvincingly, I might add).

As Erin would say, BOOOOORRRRIIIINNNNGGGGG.

Tally and Shay spend the next few months leading up to their pretty surgery doing all kinds of boring things, and not having much in common besides hoover boarding. I wasn't feeling any love betwixt them, even though Mr. Westerfeld stated it was so.

Things began to pick up after Shay ran away, and Tally agreed to betray Shay and all the other Smokies in exchange for being turned pretty.

Wow, I'm liking this Tally girl now!(<--sarcasm)

But wait, none of this was Tally's fault. She was pressured into betraying Shay and the Smokies for, like, three days straight, you gize! And besides, Tally made admirable decisions after that. Like the time she back-stabbed her BFF by stealing her boyfriend David (whom Tally had strong, mediocre, indifferent feelings for), and then lied about it. And the other time Tally lied, and allowed David to believe that she had nothing to do with Special Circumstances finding the Smoke, burning his home, and killing his father.(<--all sarcasm, you gize. The whole paragraph.)

See, I'm all for characters making mistakes and then redeeming themselves in some grand way, and Tally eventually does so at the very end when she turns herself in, but it was too late for me. I despised the fact that she deceived David that whole time they were alone together, and allowed him to think she was the most bubbly person to walk the Earth, when really she had been a person of weak moral character. If, supposedly, she had had a change of heart after learning the truth about the Pretties from David's parents, then she should have been a person of higher character after that point.

Which brings me to David. A shamefully boring character who falls head over heels in love with Tally for reasons unexplained. It must have happened off-page. I didn't believe it for a moment.

The name "David" was described as weird and made-up sounding. I was surprised it didn't stand the test of time. I have an uncle named David. Also, King David from the Old Testament.

Now I should say something nice about the book, even though I'm bored of writing about it, and you're probably equally bored reading about it.

So, the Uglies was easy to read and it held my interest enough for me to read it in one sitting. I loved the lingo and the futuristic thingamajigs of the future, like talking houses and such. I loved the concept.

The scenes of Tally traveling to the Smoke were strangely non-boring and adventurous-seeming. And also strange was this lingering desire I had at the end of the book to learn what happens to two random characters: Peris and Croy.

Amy lent me Pretties and Specials and I will eventually read them, so that says something.

I look forward to our deep discussion tonight. Don't be late.

PS. The analogy of cat vomit was used twice, thus losing it's dramatic effect:

Opening line:
"The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit."

Go to page 122. Halfway down.
"Out the window, the sun was just beginning to turn the towers of New Pretty Town pink. Cat-vomit pink."

My Thoughts On Being Ugly

I don't really know what to say about the book. I just kept thinking that I would totally sign up for the surgery (brain damage and all) today. I liked David, but just having Tally say once that she found him unattractive was enough to make him undesirable the rest of the book. I don't care if she changed her mind about him, mine was made up. He was just, eh to me. Besides, killing and eating rabbits? I bet he had bad breath to top it all off.
I guess I am too aware of the problems that come with "real" life. I think i would really enjoy being stunning, and partying every night.
I did however wish we had bungee jackets and hoverboards. I am going to have Hazel invent them when she grows up. Why was Tally, at the age of 15 and 9/12 just learning to ride one, when thoughtout the whole book it seemed everyone else had one. There was even mention of "old" models.
That's it. I am really just here for the banter tonight. I can't wait!

UGLY?--I'll take two please thank you

1. I would for sure choose to be Ugly. Who doesn't love an open fire, scratchy wool sweaters, and a normal functioning brain right? The only option for me being pretty was if Edward was a living in New Pretty town. Then I'd partay with him all day and night like the stupid borderline downs syndrome that I was.
2. My hoverboard skillz would be RAD that's for sure. I am hopelessly competitive in all things sports and with no worries about ruining my hurr did or cute clothes (since I'm ugly and all) I'd rawk that hoverboard like it's hot.
3. That fro in my ugly pic is obviously a shout out to Barack Obama fans of our nation. I need to know that everyone likes me.
4. That white orchid is whack, yo. It obviously means that all things beautiful to look at are NOT great to have multiples covering your life with. That one was easy.
5. A unibrow is the universal sign of ugly. Cuz if you have that much hair on your face then............
6. David is NOT hawt. And this is a problem. Maybe it was because I have been so incredibly obsessed with Edward as of late (you kow with seeing the movie three times and just re-reading the book again and stuff) that it was impossible for David to have any draw for me. I don't feel like the author really established any kind of love story with them. I wasn't feeling it. I just had to believe the author.

A few things I'd like to know:

How creepy were Tally-wa's parents? Did she never notice that before?

Why don't any littlies ever have ginormous IQ's and start a rebellion of their own?

How do you think the "people in charge" manage reproduction in the middle pretties? Does every family get ONE kid and do they get to have the parents genes, etc?

Landee-wa Hoverboards Through Uglies

So, it took me about half the book to realize that I am an ugly… ME! I mean, srsly. Then I was all ticked off. Then I started wondering what my ugly nickname would have been. Then I didn’t want to know.

But srsly, you gize. If being ugly is wrong, then I don’t wanna be right.

Btw, I knew the pretty operation messed with your brain. Knew it. Just from how Peris was acting when she saw him in the elevator. I didn’t need Az & Maddy to tell me that. I wish I would have written it in the margin of my book so you'd believe me.

Did anyone notice how everything “found purchase” in this book? The saw found purchase on the metal. Her foot found purchase on the roof. I mean, I get what it means but wha?

So this is what is going to happen if the far lefties get a hold of the government btw. The environmental freaks. The socialists. Everybody needs to be equal & crap like that. I’d soooo run away to The Smoke too.

Just kidding.

I wanna be pretty.

I also want to be crushin’ on David but it’s not as intense as, say, my unhealthy desires for Edward & Peeta (and Gale come Sept 09). I mean, I see that he’s a cool guy and stuff but he doesn’t make me all tingly. This is probably my biggest disappointment of this book. It’s most likely because the author is a man and men don’t know what women want in their leading male characters. His grace while running through the woods just doesn't bring it home for me.

SpagBol.

So one thing that kept my little unpretty brain bubbly was the term “cruel pretty.” I kept trying to picture in my mind what that would look like. I thought of some people who might fit that description...

Exhibit A: Cruel



Exhibit B: Crueler



Exhibit C: Cruelest



Right?

I also did some research on line and found the Italian and British book covers.





Uh..... mkay?

I wonder if those disembodied Barbies would have made me wanna read it more. The British are whack-yo. And I'm half way though Specials and srsly, that cover represents the one part I hate.

I also found some fun t-shirts I wanna order for everyone.



I say that to my kids now. Very effective.





And for Jenny:



The Matrix, The Uglies, The Pre-Existence, and The Millennium

The Red Pill or The Blue Pill?

In the movie The Matrix the main character Neo realizes that something is wrong with the world around him. He meets a man named Morpheus who offers him a choice. Take a blue pill, which will make him forget their meeting and go back to the life he is currently living; or take a red pill which will open his eyes to the truth.

The truth is that Neo's body is laying in a cocoon being fed by tubes, while his mind is in a computer generated reality called "the matrix". Neo chooses the red pill, wakes up in his cocoon in the real world, and emerges to face a difficult life of fear and hardship. He and the others who have taken the red pill are constantly on the run from the agents who wish to keep all the humans in their cocoons.

One of these "red pill" humans named Cypher is tired of running. He is captured in the matrix by the agents who want him to betray his friends. In exchange they offer him a life in the matrix where he is rich, and happy. As he is eating a delicious (but imaginary) steak he says "You know, I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss".

To Be, or Not To Be.... Pretty

This is essentially the same premise of Uglies, and the main character Tally is faced with a choice similar to Cypher's. She can live a “pretty” life in a “pretty” town, where her altered mind would be always happy and content. All she has to do is betray her friends so they can be made "pretty" too.

Assume you didn’t have to betray your friends… would you choose a happy imaginary life; or a very real life of hardship and struggle? Would you take the red pill, or the blue pill? Apparently you would choose the red one, because… well... here you are.

You see this theme goes back to the pre-existence (if you believe in that Mormony Plan of Salvation stuff) where we were all given a choice. Live a life where we are forced to be good - which would mean we would live in a world with no crime, no hatred, no bigotry, no wars, no starvation; essentially a struggle free happy life - but with no free agency. We all chose a life of pain and hardship so that we might grow and progress.

Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me... Disneyland!

I’m wondering if it took some peer pressure for me to choose this plan. I could certainly see the appeal of stagnating for eons if it meant eating all the lobster, and chocolate sundaes I could eat, and never worrying about the cost of the meal or the weight gain. As you all know, my life long fantasy is to live on Tom Sawyer’s Island and have Disneyland be my playground every day.

Continuing on the biblical theme... while reading Uglies I spent some time pondering what the world would be like if God hadn't confounded the languages at the time of the Tower of Babel. What if everyone on earth spoke the same language, and had the same skin color? Would we still have had all the hatred, wars, riots, and general suffering that we’ve have had? Certainly not as much I have to think.

1000 Years of SwedeBalls

And I have another question for you to ponder. Is the millennium, New Pretty Town?

First consider this quote by Lorenzo Snow:
We know that in the future, after we have passed thorugh this life, we will then have our wives and our children with us. We will have our bodies glorified, made free from every sickness and distress, and rendered most beautiful. There is nothing more beautiful to look upon than a resurrected man or woman. (Conference Report, October 1900, p. 4.)

And this quote by George Q. Cannon:
In that glorious period everything on the face of the earth will be beautiful; disease and crime, and all the evils that attend our present state of existence will be banished. (Journal of Discourses, 14:321:22.)

I know there are a great many things that have not yet been revealed and which we can't fully understand. One of those things that I am seriously baffled by is how, during the millennium - even without the influence of Satan - that we are going to put away all our pettiness, jealousies, selfishness, and other character flaws to all somehow suddenly all get along.

From what I understand of the millennium, life will continue on much the same as it is now, but somehow we will no longer have any contentions. To me that suggests that all our character flaws will somehow go away and we will be willing to share everything we have with everyone else and never covet something that anyone else has, or worry that someone is doing more work than someone else. I personally don't see how that can happen, unless our minds are somehow fundamentally altered.

Consider the fact that according to the new order of marriage you may have to share your hubby with another wife, or wives during the millennium or after judgment day. How is it that you will no longer feel jealousy? See where I'm going here? During the millennium we will somehow all be pretty, happy, and content - New Pretty Town.

Well, there are your biblical themes… feel free to use them in you talks, and Sunday School lessons.

Bogus? Just a Littlie

Now... how did I like the book? Well, not nearly as much as I liked The Matrix. The author hinted at the above themes, but didn't really explore them in any depth. In fact he totally glossed over what it was that brought our civilization to the point of forcing everyone to be pretty and brain damaged. Maybe it gets more coverage in the other books (I only read Uglies), but it wasn't until page 44 that he mentioned the problems that were caused by different skin colors and people judging each other based on their appearance; and that was covered in just a paragraph or two.

It took me a while to get into the book. I read the first half in a few weeks, and the second half in a few hours yesterday. Towards the end there was some good action and nice twists. I like how Shay got “turned” at the end. That's when the red pill, blue pill theme - really began to take form. I loved Tally's decision to step up, and turn herself in, and thus redeem herself for the lies she told.

I liked Uglies enough to want to finish the series. I went and bought Pretties today, and I’m excited to find out what happens next. If I had known how much the first one left you hanging I would have tried harder to read them all before the book club meeting. I'm worried about all the spoilers I'm likely to read today and tonight. I don't mind reading about minor plot points, and new funny words, but If you're going to give away the ending or anything major, be sure and post a spoiler alert!

Having said THAT, I can't wait to read your reviews and join in tonight to read commentary on littlies, trick-making, belly sensors, interface rings, SpagBol, and my favorite... SwedeBalls.
'Till tonight - Markie

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Discussion Scheduled: UGLIES

Hey you gize. It's me, Landee. Ugly Landee as a matter of fact. You don't believe me? Come over right now and look. I knew I wouldn't be seeing anyone today (Gty included) so I put on my old lady hoodie, ill fitting jeans and spent minimal time on my hurrdid & makeup. Tally would be so proud of me that I didn't bend to society today. I might even go chop down some trees and burn them just for the heck of it.

So, I'm taking over the Smart Remarks Book Club right now because Jenny's computer up & caught the flu (it didn't get its flu shot, you gize). She is laptop shopping this very moment. Apparently she was so bored today with no computer that she had to fill her time doing things like cleaning out the refrigerator and folding laundry. Very unfun-making! She called and asked if I would make a few announcements on her behalf.

So here goes:

1) The Smart Remarks Book Club will meet for our discussion of Uglies by Scott Westerfeld this Sunday (December 7th) at 8:00pm Pacific/9:00pm Mountain (hide it in your scripture case and "pray" all during Sacrament meeting if you have to to get it done).
2) The format will be slightly different this month. You are to post your review on this blog sometime during the day on Sunday (but not after 8/9pm). Feel free to write your review now and have it scheduled to post on Sunday, you gize. This will give us all plenty of time to read each other's thoughts before the actual LIVE discussion takes place. Do not comment under your own review or anyone else's. There will be a UGLIES DISCUSSION HERE post for all that kind of awesome to take place.
3) Don't forget to vote in the poll over to the right. We need to recognize the ugliest person in our book club properly.
4) Some discussion questions to be pondering: Would you give up being pretty to cook rabbits over an open fire and poo in a hole? How long do you think you could stay on a hoverboard even with the grippy shoes? What does the fro in Memzy's ugly pic mean? Is she a racist? What is the symbolism of the white tiger orchid? Why does a unibrow automatically mean ugly? Is David hawt?

See you on Sunday. Don't forget your interface rings.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tally Youngblood...