YMMV / Uglies

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: One essay in the companion book Mind-Rain paints Shay as a Psycho Lesbian. And another essay portrays her as a Draco in Leather Pants.
  • Expy: Westerfeld admits to enjoying Buffy the Vampire Slayer and if you take a close look, you can see parallels to some of the characters' personalities.
    • Tally Youngblood=Buffy/Willow, Shay=Faith,David=Angel, Zane=Spike, Dr. Cable=Glory,Croy=Xander, both of them are skeptical. Xander doesn't trust Angel and for most of Uglies Croy doesn't trust Tally. Aya Fuse=Dawn
  • Les Yay: Shay gets awfully jealous whenever Tally gets a boyfriend. This arguably becomes Foe Yay later on as Shay becomes more and more villainous. Somewhat intentional — the author purposely used gender-neutral terms when Shay asks Tally where she got her locket in Uglies.
  • Moe: All young Pretties have to look young and vulnerable. Tally lampshades that when Dr. Cable corners her, since a normal Pretty would be scampering away like a rabbit.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Dr. Cable crosses it in Uglies when she kills Az while attempting to operate on his brain in the hopes of removing his memories as well as adding lesions. To make it clear she's the antagonist in Specials, she hides evidence that Tally and Shay accidentally destroyed a museum to have an excuse to declare war on Diego for housing the runaway uglies, and then imprisons Tally when she returns home to confess.
  • Older Than They Think: A new reader picking this up might dismiss this as a Hunger Games or Divergent clone - except it was written three to five years prior.
  • Tear Jerker: Zane's death.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: It's really hard to hate Shay when you consider that she has legitimate reasons to act villainous. Trusting your best friend with all your secrets only for her to steal your boyfriend, destroy your home, get you kidnapped and have a mind-warping chip put in your brain must really suck. This was Scott Westerfeld's intention, to show that Tally and Shay could never really be "best friends forever" as Shay creepily puts it at the end of Pretties. Although Tally isn't completely to blame, as Shay's Story points out, they still end up at odds from the trilogy's beginning to end.
  • Vindicated by History: Of a sort - While Uglies was never a flop so to speak, it was a rather uncommon find in bookstores prior to The Hunger Games, which enabled Uglies to get another chance because people would recommend this to other teens and adults who were fans of Hunger Games.
  • The Woobie:
    • Tally Youngblood. She wants to become Pretty so she can hang out with her friend Peris again, and grow up. Then she gets blackmailed into being The Mole for Dr. Cable, only to learn that the pretty operation makes people brain-damaged with lesions and thus isn't all that is cracked up to be. Her impulsiveness to destroy Cable's locket ends up betraying the Smoke, and leads to her crush's dad dying.
    • Shay. Her attempts to help Tally explore a lifestyle that doesn't rely on being pretty backfire badly. Due to leaving hints for Tally to find the Smoke, she loses her home, her boyfriend and her free will. Then when Tally reveals that she has a cure, Shay is understandably upset about it and starts cutting herself to get the same high. No one, least of all Tally, blames her for becoming Special. Then, she gets cured, which causes her to have a Heel Realization.
    • David. Unlike Tally and Shay, he's grown up without the Pretty culture to accept or reject. The girl he likes turns out to be The Mole for that culture, though she switches sides, and destroys his home by accident. He keeps forgiving her but she keeps turning him away.