Pub Writes

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Specials by Scott Westerfeld

Posted by Caitie F on January 28, 2011

Title: Specials
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Paperback: 372 pages
Publisher: Simon pulse
Year Published: 2006
ISBN: 9781416947950
Rating: +++++

Summary (from goodreads):

“Special Circumstances”:

The words have sent chills down Tally’s spine since her days as a repellent, rebellious ugly. Back then Specials were a sinister rumor — frighteningly beautiful, dangerously strong, breathtakingly fast. Ordinary pretties might live their whole lives without meeting a Special. But Tally’s never been ordinary.

And now she’s been turned into one of them: a superamped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid.

The strength, the speed, and the clarity and focus of her thinking feel better than anything Tally can remember. Most of the time. One tiny corner of her heart still remembers something more.

Still, it’s easy to tune that out — until Tally’s offered a chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat, or carry out the mission she’s programmed to complete. Either way, Tally’s world will never be the same.


First of all, this review will contain spoilers, so don’t read the review unless you have read the book or don’t plan on reading the book.

I thought this might have been the best book of the series, which is quite an accomplishment because I adored all three books. I felt like all of the characters really grew and figured out for themselves what was right. Even Shay, who I hated in the previous book and for most of this book.

But this is mainly Tally’s story, so I want to focus on her first. I hated the sense of superiority she felt to everyone else because it just wasn’t her. That they wired her in a way that was meant to take away her compassion broke my heart. She was able to fight it, but those moments where she was laughing at others or disgusted at  them because they weren’t her made me so sad, especially with her negative attitudes towards Zane at times.

Zane wasn’t my favorite character, but I thought that the scenes with him struggling were absolutely heartbreaking, even more than his death. He was so strong and vibrant, but he lost that and it was so sad. In the end, he still chose freedom, even if it was risky. This book made me like him a lot more than Pretties.

There was so much action in this book that it felt a little rushed. Yet somehow, even with all the action, this was still a character-driven story which I loved. I almost always understood exactly why each character did what they did, even Shay.

These books are so full of issues and make me think more than most young adult books. I found myself a little disgusted when the city was expanding. They knew what effects ruining the wild had and they could have easily fallen into the trap the Rusties had faced. It was like they were not even thinking. I was proud of Tally when she stopped making herself feel pain so she could feel more clearly and that she found other ways. I could write paragraphs about all the issues that are addressed, which is one reason these books are so strong.

I have seen a lot of different opinions on how Tally’s story ended and I have mixed feelings on it. On the one hand, I love that she ended up with David. She was better when he was with her, and he was too. I like that they ended up in the wild and warned everyone that they would be watching. I thought it was very appropriate for their journey. She never wanted fame or attention, and I am glad that she didn’t completely change in the end. I sort of wish she had reversed the Special operation and went back to being Tally. I know she beat it and all, but Why have all the enhancements when she is great how she is? It was a little disappointing, but maybe she just didn’t want anyone else to mess with her, who knows what they could do.

I loved this book and Tally’s story.


2 Responses to “Specials by Scott Westerfeld”

  1. Amanda said

    I also wish she’d gotten out of her special-body, rather than letting what’s-her-face (the special lady, I can’t remember now) win. I feel like she’s always going to struggle because she’s been so programmed and brainwashed. I wanted Tally to be Tally again, which is probably the main reason why I struggle with the end of this book. And of course, you know already how much I loved Zane so this book was heartbreaking for me…

    • Caitie F said

      It was really interesting because the more I thought about the book, the more I liked Zane and all he stood for and the more sad it made me when he was gone. He would have been an excellent leader through all of the changes.

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