EXTRAS is a continuation of the Uglies series. Technically one can read the series as a trilogy (Uglies – Specials) because EXTRAS really serves more as an epilogue to Tally’s journey. The story is set in Japan and features a different protagonist in a different culture. Tally and her crew show up of course but they are not the center of the plot for once. Rather this book offers a glimpse into the aftermath of Tally’s fateful decision at the end of SPECIALS.
Completely fascinating and fun to read this book offers a different angle on the story of Tally Youngblood. What began as a local incident and grew into a global confrontation has left large ripples in its wake and this book zooms out to show us that.
After being slightly disappointed with the previous three books, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I loved this one. This story has a whole new location, a whole new storyline and a whole new heroine. I found that I strongly identified with Aya Fuse, because unlike other heroines I have come across, she is far from perfect and unlike Tally Youngblood, she has a personality. Sorry Tally fans. I did like the inclusion of Tally in this book, but she was like a bully to the other characters and that made me hate her even more. The only complaint I have is that all the suspense was built up about the missiles and the 'inhumans' and it was actually an anti-climax, with a disappointing ending. But other than that, it was a good book that I would reccomend.
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.
Don't get me wrong I am a big fan of the Uglies series and I rate the first 3 books all 5 stars and I completely recommend them. But Extras is a book I regret buying and I wish I had stopped after reading Specials.
The first mistake I made was that I thought that it was going to be following Tally Youngblood because I had bought all 4 books at the same time and didn't want to read the blurb in case it included spoilers from the previous books. I was disappointed to find that it was actually following Aya Fuse. I quickly got over this and tried to keep an open mind.
The beginning I felt was much slower paced and I found myself bored. I didn't like Aya's attachment to her camera "moggle" and I wasn't overly exited by the sly girls who play a fairly large part in the start of the book. I thought it went into too much detail trying to explain face ranks and the other tech pieces which were introduced.
That being said I thought the end of the book was better, the pace picked up and it improved. I didn't like how Tally was portrayed as cruel because I don't think that it fits with how she was in the previous 3 books. In the end it turned out okay but I still wish that I had stopped at Specials and I wouldn't recommend buying Extras. In my opinion if you want to read it borrow it from the library because it is not a book I would read again like I do/will with the uglies trilogy.
Like the Uglies trilogy it also had a deeper meaning (despite the fact that the world has changed now and it is no longer focused on plastic surgery and beauty), Extras looks at how we as a society are obsessed with fame and Scott Westerfeld puts a unique twist on it.
I understand that lots of people really enjoyed this book, but it wasn't for me.
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.
(Source: I own a copy of this book.) This is book 4 in the `Uglies' series. It's three years since Tally Youngblood woke the planet up with her `mind rain' and took away everyone's pretty-mindedness. Now everyone is `bubbly' all the time, and things are very different (this sounds like nonsense doesn't it?). 15-year-old Aya Fuse lives in an ugly dormitory in Japan, and has a `face rank' of 451,396 (out of 1,000,000). This means that she is incredibly average. In the society in which she lives, instead of money people earn merits - for work, and face ratings - for celebrity. It is a combination of these that determines where you live, how much stuff you are entitled to etc, and Aya desperately wants to increase her face rank, and become someone - and also in the process to be able to afford stuff.
Following a group of girls called the `sly girls' who nobody believes really exist, Aya is determined to get footage of them using her hover-cam, and `kick' it to the world - this is like publishing a story online for the world to read - hence increasing her `face-rank'. Unfortunately, things don't go to plan, and Aya finds herself inducted into the `Sly girls' gang, with her hover-cam at the bottom of a water reservoir. Little does she know that this will lead to events that will not only make her famous, but will change the world as she knows it forever.
Although this book is a bit different to the first three, it is still a pretty good book. I have to say that it was a bit weird at first not being with Tally, and obviously the world was changed a bit too from the first three books, with these new ideas about face-rank, and merits and stuff.
The gadgets in this book weren't really any different to those in the previous books, so nothing new there, but I am still loving the strange way they speak. Can't wait to tell someone that they are `brain-missing' or `sanity-challenged'!
I'm pleased that I read this book to complete the series, and it was nice to see how the world had changed following the end of the `pretty-mindedness' that occurred at the end of the third book. We did get a cameo from Tally, Shay, and David towards the end, and it was nice to find out that Tally did really end up with David, which wasn't really clear at the end of the last book.
I have to say that some of the ideas at the end of the book were just a bit weird, and stretching just a bit too far in my opinion. The mystery in the book was pretty good, but just fell apart a bit at the end, when I just sort of thought `really?'
Overall though, I would say that this book is worth reading if you enjoyed the previous three books, but is, I would suggest, the weakest of the series. 7 out of 10.