Pretties is the second book in the Uglies series. This time around they're pretty ugly.
The book begins with Tally as a Pretty debating what to wear to a bash. While attending the bash at which she is to be voted into the "Crims" clique, she is followed by someone who appears to be a "Special", a member of Special Circumstances, which brings back many memories.
Tally can only remember her adventures as an Ugly in brief, disconnected bits because of the brain lesions present on all those who have undergone 'the Operation'. She is surprised to discover that the person stalking her is Croy, an old friend of hers from the Smoke. He has something for her but she must search for it later. She agrees, bemused by his repellent ugliness, including his big pores and tangled hair – all the imperfections that the surgery to become a Pretty transforms into beauty.
Tally returns to her care-free life as a pretty. Her peace is disrupted when Zane, who is the leader of the Crims, asks her about David, whom she loved while she lived in the Smoke (the rebel community).
Zane had once known Croy and had been determined to escape to the Smoke before his surgery. He regrets that he didn't go into the wilderness then. Zane is eager to accompany Tally in finding the object Croy has hidden for her. They face strenuous, dangerous physical challenges in order to locate the item, which is accompanied by a letter from Tally to herself, written before she went under the knife. The letter explained to her future self why she had become a Pretty – to take a cure pill.
Zane and Tally learn that the Pretties' brains are altered during their surgery. After taking the pills, their main goal is to be bubbly. "Bubbly" is Pretty slang for anything good, also referring to something "cool", a state of having a natural high or being full of adrenaline, and alcohol. The adrenaline rush helps cut through the "pretty haze," and enables clearer thinking. They try to help all the Crims stay bubbly. They do things to make the Crims bubbly, such as crashing a skating rink.
When Shay, who, after becoming bubbly, remembered how Tally betrayed her, questions why Tally is bubblier than the rest of the clique, Tally tells Shay about the pills. This makes Shay furious because she wanted Tally to share the pills with her. Shay forms a new clique known as the Cutters, who cut themselves to stay bubbly.
Knowing that Special Circumstances will come after her any minute, Tally decides that she must go to the New Smoke. Meanwhile Zane is suffering extreme headaches and finding it hard to do everyday tasks. Thinking that this has something to do with the pills, they go to the New Smoke in a hot air ballon, taking the risk of dropping more than 500 feet in the air.
Peris decides in the balloon that he does not want to go to the New Smoke. He stalls Tally, and instead of falling to the river, she falls into a reservation with rather primitive people who seem to be very violent, being stuck in a rut of tribal feuding. The reservation is used by scientists to study human behavior. She is considered a god there because of her beauty. There she meets Andrew Simpson Smith, who is the only one who speaks her language.
When she escapes the reservation, she goes to the Rusty ruins. When she calls, she sees someone coming down on a hoverboard and is shocked to find that it is David who has come to take her to the New Smoke. When she arrives, Maddy tells her that the pills she and Zane took separately were meant to be taken together by one person. The nanos that were supposed to eat away the lesions, but they ate more of Zane’s brain tissue because they needed the pill that Tally took to stop them. This means that the pill Tally took did nothing, she thought her way out of being Pretty, a feat that was thought impossible.
They soon discover that, when Zane went to the hospital for his headaches, a tracker chip was put in his tooth that sent a message to the Specials. Tally decides to stay with Zane instead of escaping with David. David is confused and believes that she only loves Zane because he is a Pretty, and tells her so.
To make David leave and not get caught himself, Tally tells him to "get his ugly face out of here", hurting him. It had the desired result and he flees. She stays with Zane which leads to her getting caught by the Specials. She soon discovers that Shay has been turned into a Special Circumstances in her absence. The book ends with Shay knocking Tally out and forcing her to become a Special. The last sentence is , "Face it Tally-wa, you're Special," which Tally hears in her dreamlike state.
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