It’s not often that I wish a book had been less enjoyable.
“Yeah, that was so awesome, but you know what would have been better? If it had sucked a little more.”
Yet Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld, has placed me in just such a position.
[Note: I’ll try my best to keep away from overly specific spoilers, but you might want to avoid this if you’re still planning to read it.]
I have a mind like a vulture. It naturally seems to take everything it comes across and pick it apart until there’s nothing left but rotting remains clinging to the bones.
In slightly less frightening language, that means I’m naturally analytical. When I experience something, I can’t help but analyze and criticize it. It doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying myself, contrary to what it may seem on the surface. I just can’t help myself.
Even a mind as ruthlessly picky as my own occasionally gets so swept up in an experience that it manages to forget itself for a moment. Sometimes, every beautiful once in a while, something comes along that just has that magical, ethereal quality that sucks me in despite my brain whimpering in silent protest that it wants to find something to dislike.
Uglies was just such an experience for me. Whether it’s truly worthy of such praise is an entirely different topic. All I know is that I couldn’t help but fall completely in love with it and, damn it, that’s just fun every once in a while. I can’t be sarcastic and analytical all the time.
The problem I now face is that Uglies has done its job too well. The author has made me love the character and agree with what she stands for and what she ultimately becomes by the end of the book. I felt as if I have journeyed along with her, seen her change, and felt real emotion as to what has happened to her as the pages turned.
What’s the problem with that?
It’s not a problem in and of itself. When the author decides to take book two of the trilogy and turn it so completely on its head that it resembles its predecessor in name only, however, it begins to become an issue.
Or at least that’s the fear I have of it at this point, having read the first few pages, the synopsis, and nothing else. Let’s just say that at this point I really hope I’m wrong.
The character is unrecognizable. She is a different person; one that I don’t like and wouldn’t read about if I was not invested in her tale already. She has, in fact, become a character that fires up that analytical part of my brain again and makes it scream at me to put the book down, to read something else, to choose something less repulsive to my tastes.
This is more painful to me than simply picking up a book and not being interested. I have come to care about this girl. I like her. I want her to succeed and get what she wants.
Now, the author is telling me that, to experience that satisfaction, I might have to sit through a large chunk of book where I have to bear this wonderful character being someone completely different from herself.
The friend I have made in the pages of the book has been wiped away and replaced with someone unfamiliar and unappealing. That’s not just off-putting; that borders on insulting.
It’s like watching a close friend change before your eyes and being unable to stop it. You feel helpless and saddened, but you still can’t help but care about the person even though you don’t like what they have become.
Say what you will, but I have come to care about this young girl and the fact that the author might be turning her into this foreign entity for the selfish purpose of fleshing out his story world makes me angry when I can’t help but think that there might have been a way to do it without sacrificing all that he did so well to build up in the first book.
I hope that some of my fears are proven wrong. I have not read the book and I don’t want to judge it prematurely.
But Scott Westerfeld damn well better make it worth my while in the end. My stupid brain has chosen this series to become irrationally attached to and I’m going to be rather miffed if he doesn’t provide a good payoff.