Returning to the World of The Uglies

Frey and Rafi are inseparable . . . but very few people have ever seen them together. This is because Frey is Rafi’s double, raised in the shadows of their rich father’s fortress. While Rafi has been taught to charm, Frey has been taught to kill. Frey only exists to protect her sister. There is no other part of her life. Frey has never been out in the world on her own – until her father sends her in Rafi’s place to act as collateral for a dangerous deal. Everyone thinks she’s her sister – but Col, the son of a rival leader, is starting to get close enough to tell the difference. As the stakes grow higher and higher, Frey must decide whether she can trust him – or anyone in her life.

impostersThis is the synopsis of Scott Westerfeld’s new novel, The Imposters. It can stand on its own (or actually, as the first in its own trilogy of course), but it is also a part of the fabulous series The Uglies. I received a review copy of this book from the KidLitExchange in return for an honest review.

In the world of The Uglies, in order to avoid the environmental and political destruction that people were creating around them, at the age of 16 everyone had a surgery to make them “pretty.” The unknown consequence? They were also made stupid. Ok, there are some (a lot) of issues that you can have with the series, but I enjoyed reading it. So I was intrigued to start a new book that goes back to the same world.

Spoiler alert – by the end of the series, the protagonist, Tally, has taken down the whole concept of pretties and the surgeries are ended. So now we are left with a world that knows the dangers that over-mining can do and also that allowing one person or group have too much power can have disastrous consequences. But our entire existence has always been a struggle for power. One person or group always wants to have more power.  The very notion of a utopia has long been proven impossible. Paste Magazine puts it perfectly when they say: “Dystopian novels provide some of literature’s most blatant cultural critiques…and we love them for it. Reading about oppressive government regimes—or even a giant brain telepathically controlling an entire planet—stokes the fire in our souls. And witnessing citizens rebel against the status quo offers hope for the future, even if that rebellion proves unsuccessful. ”

So Imposters starts out many years later. The “pretties” are gone, but there are once again massive power struggles by the ruling parties, much like ruling parties in real life. The book focuses on Frey, the twin sister who lives a life of secrecy. She is her sister’s body double and sometimes bodyguard. From a young age she has been trained to kill, to not allow anyone to get to Rafi, and to make sure no one knows that she exists. Rafi is the “chosen” sister who is being groomed to take over if/when their father dies. When negotiating a deal with a rival power, he agrees to send Rafi as collateral, but of course sends Frey.

Frey lacks the social graces of Rafi, but takes on the task. Their father is a pretty horrible guy and early on Frey starts to question why he was so willing to send her into the wolves’ den. Col, the son of the rival leader, is sent in to get to know her better and almost sees through her charade. Of course there is a love interest (it wouldn’t be YA dystopia without it), but there are also realizations about the corruption of power.

I found the story thoroughly enjoyable, though frustrated at the end to realize it was the start of another 3 book series.

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