Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Extras - Scott Westerfeld

Summary: It's a few years after rebel Tally Youngblood took down the uglies/pretties/specials regime. Without those strict roles and rules, the world is in a complete cultural renaissance. "Tech-heads" flaunt their latest gadgets, "kickers" spread gossip and trends, and "surge monkeys" are hooked on extreme plastic surgery. And it's all monitored on a bazillion different cameras. The world is like a gigantic game of American Idol. Whoever is getting the most buzz gets the most votes. Popularity rules.

As if being fifteen doesn't suck enough, Aya Fuse's rank of 451,369 is so low, she's a total nobody. An extra. But Aya doesn't care; she just wants to lie low with her drone, Moggle. And maybe kick a good story for herself.

Then Aya meets a clique of girls who pull crazy tricks, yet are deeply secretive of it. Aya wants desperately to kick their story, to show everyone how intensely cool the Sly Girls are. But doing so would propel her out of extra-land and into the world of fame, celebrity...and extreme danger. A world she's not prepared for. (Summary and image from Powells.com)

My Review: Westerfeld sure has a way of depicting peer pressure and the teen world accurately. Aya is a typical 'non-popular' girl. If you've ever been there, not wanted to be on that side of the social sphere, you can totally relate to her pain and desire to change her social status. What I liked was how she realizes that it isn't all it's cracked up to be. I believe this is the case with most popular groups--unless the person is shallow enough or the people in the group truly are good friends regardless of their status in the environment.

One of my favorite aspects of Westerfeld's books is his ability to take you into a world that is like ours, but just enough different that you can fathom living like that. The buildings, the cameras, the tv personalities, are all so believable. I can only imagine that in the future popularity will depend upon the number of hits (whether from the internet or tv) a person's page gets. Creepy if you ask me. I don't want a camera on my life.

The discussion of your self-worth not depending on your social status is one very pertinent to Young Adults. There is so much you could do with discussions and this book.

I must admit that by the end of this book, I was ready for the series to be over. I was definitely sick of Tally, so having a new protagonist was nice. But, I am done with the theme. The books are worth reading, but I do think ending on this one was crucial to not killing the series.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

In a phrase: A girl who learns that life isn't just about being the most recognizable person, but about real relationships and things deeper than popularity.

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