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A Fame Making Return
on 7 July 2008
I was a little reticent about picking up 'Extras', having found 'Specials' the third instalment of the 'Uglies Trilogy' the weakest of the the three. This combined with the fact the trilogy was now suddenly billed as a quartet, did not bode well. It may have worked for Douglas Adams but as a general rule, revisiting a completed series, produces novels that are shadows of the original stories. Not so in this case.
There is a a very strong argument for Extras being the best of the four. It has the same easy to read style and I found the story more coherent than in the previous novels. It seemed to me, now that Westerfeld has had a few years to kick about in his future world, he feels a lot more at home there.
In Extras, it's our obsession with fame that comes under the microscope; the central characters live in a city where your fame ranking determines everything about you. It's a fantastic metaphor for twenty first century culture. Journalism also comes under the microscope and Westerfeld explores the power of honesty and'Truth-Slanting', the idea that there are multiple ways to spin a story.
Like the previous novels in the series, Extras is a terrific read. Westerfeld writes exciting stories, using shades of grey that should provoke the reader into thinking a little more about the world we live in. I think he is a sadly underrated author, if Westerfeld lived inside his own creation, he'd barely exist and that would be a crying shame.