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Extras

Review

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A few years have passed since Tally Youngblood destroyed the establishment based on pretties, uglies and specials. Now popularity runs the world. Popularity means power. Each citizen is ranked by how much she or he is talked about. Cameras record everything as they vie to be the person with the most buzz.

Fifteen-year-old Aya Fuse has a pitiful "face rank," or popularity ranking, of 451,369, which makes her a society nonentity, commonly known as an "extra." Aya's older brother Hiro, on the other hand, is famous. But Aya has a plan to up her popularity ranking. She takes Moggle, her trusty (and kind of adorable) hovercam, to a party filled with tech-heads (in love with the latest technological goodies) and surge monkeys (who indulge in wild plastic surgery modifications on themselves).

Aya hopes to discover and film a huge story about a secret group. "Kicking," or spreading, the story on her feed should result in acclaim for herself, thus upping her face rank. Because of her parents' refusal to let her become a pretty before she is 16, Aya is stuck with her average looks, including what she considers to be a huge nose. So she disguises herself by wearing a gray, hooded robe and joins a group of similarly garbed Reputation Bombers, who join to chant the name of one member in order to bump up his face rank. In the meantime, she sends Moggle out to search for members of the group who Aya had seen surfing on top of a crazy-fast mag-lev train. Anyone who kicks the story of the train riders will be famous, and Aya aims to take advantage.

Finally, Moggle sends Aya an image she recognizes. It's hoverball champion Eden Maru, who happens to be one of the train riders. Eden is famous, with a face rank that once reached an enviable 10,000. But no one knows about her wild adventures with her secret group. Aya watches Eden via Moggle. As the hoverball player edges to the exit, an amazing boy speaks to Aya, calling her face "unique." He introduces himself as Frizz Mizuno. Frizz is not only beautiful, but Aya sees in her eyescreen that his face rank is an astounding 4,612! Why is he even associating with Aya, much less gazing at her with undisguised interest? But she can't stay to find out because Eden is leaving.

Aya hoverboards after Eden, who zigzags through the city's new construction with ease. She forces herself not to think about the intriguing Frizz but to concentrate on getting the story, as she follows Eden deep inside a dark tunnel. What they find there is a cataclysmic secret --- so huge that the fate of the Earth may hinge on it.

It's a happy day for fans when a stellar "trilogy" morphs into a series. Like the three books in Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies trilogy, EXTRAS is a fast-paced page-turner with many plot twists. It has all the elements of a terrific read: heart-pounding adventure, extreme sports, friendship, espionage, a bit of tender romance, strong and brave women, and the quest for popularity. It also includes much pointed commentary on society's celebrities, power, blogging, the environment, celebrity-based television shows and more. Fans will embrace new characters and enjoy meeting up with some of the cast from previous books.

EXTRAS continues the Uglies tradition in being an excellent futuristic thriller that also leaves the reader with plenty to ponder…and hoping for book five soon.

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Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on October 18, 2011

Extras
by Scott Westerfeld

  • Publication Date: October 2, 2007
  • Genres: Adventure, Science Fiction
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • ISBN-10: 1416951172
  • ISBN-13: 9781416951179