Book talks for readers at Chisago Lakes Middle School.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bogus to Bubbly by Scott Westerfeld

Bogus to Bubbly: an Insider's Guide to the World of Uglies by Scott Westerfeld is especially for fans of the Uglies Series.

In this book the author describes how he created the fictional world of, The Uglies. From the invention of gadgets to the formulation of the rules of society, the author gives us a glimpse of how a science fiction writer pulls together ideas from a number of sources to combine them into the cohesive elements of a story that his characters can live, move and interact in.

Setting: If you haven't read the series, you would need to know that the story takes place 300 years in the future and society is divided into the "uglies" and the "pretties." The surgically beautified pretties are separated from the "uglies" who haven't been surgically altered, yet. The "pretties" live in the sanitized, perfectly-ordered, pristine conditions of cities. Outside the orderly world of the city are the remnants of a damaged world, replete with ruins, ecological disasters, and wild places. Basically, jealousy and ugliness are blamed for why so much of the world has been damaged and the only way for the world to recover is to artificially transform everyone into a "pretty."

Characters: The main character in the story is Tally Youngblood. The author says that he needed a name that wouldn't be common today, but might work as a possible name in the future. The word, tally, refers to counting, but it's a word today that isn't used too often and the author liked the sound of it. Westerfeld created her last name from two phrases that are familiar to him: "Young Turk" & "Fresh Blood." The first one implies someone who is an upstart and the other someone that is a newcomer. Both fit the character he had in mind.

Theme: One of the author's intentions is to get us to reflect on our concept of what makes someone beautiful. Westerfeld has a section in the book about the science of beauty. One idea from the past that influenced the author is called the Symmetry Hypothesis. In the first book, Tally and Shay make a morphos mask of themselves by taking an image of one side of their face and folding a copy of it over to the other side of the mask to create a symmetrical match. [show an example] The Symmetry Hypothesis has probably been the most scientific attempt at explaining beauty. Studies have been conducted in which people were asked to look at computer generated photos and then were asked to select the pictures they preferred. The ones they most often selected were the ones that were symmetrical. "Even babies stare longer at symmetrical faces than uneven ones." This principle also operates in the animal world, not with faces but with symmetrical markings instead. According to Westerfeld, symmetry is preferred because it indicates a strong immune system. Being sick at a young age interferes with the growing process slightly, but enough to make our faces appear uneven. All of us get sick, so there isn't anyone who is perfectly symmetrical.

Find out more about how the world of the Uglies was created in, Bogus to Bubbly by Scott Westerfeld.

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