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A Search for Fame (and Other Things),
This review is from: Extras (Uglies Quartet) (Paperback)
This, the fourth book in the Uglies trilogy, is in some ways better than the original series, as it provides a fresh viewpoint and new characters to look at the Pretties world after Tally Youngblood's radical revolution.
Aya is a 15 year old in a Japanese city, a city which has re-organized its economy around the idea of fame, or face-rank as called here. As a near faceless extra, with a face rank down in the 400,000's, Aya is driven to find a news story that will propel her to fame as one of the best 'kickers' (equivalent to an investigative journalist) around. Accidentally observing a shadowy clique known as the Sly Girls, who for reasons of their own actively avoid fame, doing something both dangerous and fun, she decides that doing a story about this group will be a decidedly great way to help her in her quest to become something other than a nonentity. But the story of the Sly Girls leads her to a much larger story, one with potentially deadly consequences for the entire world, and one which will eventually attract the attention of the person with the #1 face-rank, Tally Youngblood, while at the same time involve Aya in the moral and ethical quandaries that journalism sometimes leads to.
The plot line is good, leading to some very unexpected corners of the world, and Aya is well drawn. The new society portrayed here makes an interesting contrast to that of the mind-hobbled Pretties, as without those mental limitations this new world shows a vibrancy of many different people heading off in all directions, from tech geek-hood to obsessive gossip-generating stunts. There's even some sly satire about things like how some people try to improve their Google rank today with a group in Aya's world who try to artificially boost someone's face rank by mentioned that person's name again and again.
The above is all good, but I found a few things that nagged. There are some technical bobbles, which are difficult to detail without giving away the plot, but I'll give one example. When you accelerate a multi-ton piece of steel to orbital escape velocity in an air-evacuated tunnel, then launch it up into the air, the result will be a very loud bang, hearable for miles around, and this thunder will continue following the projectile for a very long way. This is not good if you are trying to conceal the launch of such a projectile, especially if you are launching hundreds of these objects. There are some plausibility issues with the methods and aims of what turns out to be the 'villain' of this story. And once again, as with the original Pretties world, I found that the economic underpinnings of the portrayed society to be too skimpily described and worked-out to make me fully believe in it. These are quibbles, and many readers probably won't notice them amongst the fast action and all the new surprises this book has.
A good follow-up to the original series, with some fresh and original ideas and characters, well worth reading for those who read the first three books.
--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)