19 December 2011

Post 459: Uglies

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. ISBN: 9780689865381.

I could go for the obvious and talk about my feelings regarding "ugliness," but then how will you know I've read the book (you're all judging me aren't you)? But frankly, we could have that discussion more or less anytime, or you could ask me about it in the comments. No really, that's what they're there for.

Instead, a moment in the book that really stuck me was when Tally returned to Uglyville for the first time. She was comparing her situation to that of her friend (and boring, obvious love interest), whose home was destroyed:

"[...] her city still existed, right in front of her eyes--but emptied of everything it had once meant." Page 353.

I don't often get a chance to return to a place I've lived before, but whenever I do it's never quite the same. While I was a student at Antioch, I always looked forward to returning to campus. It was a place I could see old friends and get caught up on what everyone did on co-op, or meet new friends (usually friends of friends). Everyone was easy going about relationships, because it was hard not to be. You never knew who was going to be on campus when you got back, and people avoided changing their co-op schedules because by the time you got done with the approval, you usually wanted to change it back (romantic relationships at Antioch were also somewhat easy going, and who wants to see their ex when they don't have to).

I thought I would always be able to return to that, that the students of every generation would be similar and welcome me, not necessarily as a friend, but as a comrade,* as someone who was likely to have had a similar experience and perhaps had relevant knowledge to their situation. However, even as a recent alumna, with friends still on campus, I discovered that this was not the case. Granted, I found myself returning twice before my graduation ceremony,** for memorial services. The first was for one of my mentors, who left an indelible mark on Antioch College and inspired a slew of young people to enter the library profession, and the second was for my room mate.

The first was easier to take; not everyone was as affected. Although many of the people I was close to were saddened by the event, he was long past retirement age (work literally killed him, he stressed his heart to keep the library open during a severe snow storm), and it was not completely unexpected that he would die "soon." My room mate's death completely changed the way I looked at the campus. There is no way I can even think about Antioch without some memory of Matthew popping into my head. Every time I glance at my degree, or wear one of my shirts, see an update from a classmate on my Facebook page, it is impossible not to have that bittersweet sensation of wanting to go back, and knowing that I never can. Thinking about those years will always be happy and yet never not be sad. And that brings its own sadness with it.

A good review from Rebecca Reads points out some of the flaws, Goodreader Lisa also points out some flaws but has a slightly more favorable opinion of the book.
LibsNote: Purchased from Last Exit Books with personal funds.
*Definition: a person who shares in one's activities, occupation, etc.; companion, associate, or friend.
**I graduated a semester early. 

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