Title: Extras (#4 Uglies series)
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Published: October 2007
My Rating: 4/5
Three years after Tally Youngblood has changed the world, fame leads to wealth as well as popularity. Aya Fuse is 15 and a total nobody, an Extra. Her whole life revolves around finding a great story to ‘kick’ on her stream that will change everything. When she goes undercover with a secret clique, she uncovers much more than she was expecting and soon has to learn to navigate a whole new level of secrets and danger in a world fascinated by uncovering them.
Extras is the fourth book in the ‘Uglies’ trilogy. While not following the same characters, it is set in the same world, 3 years after the end of ‘Specials’. Having read the first three books, I wasn’t planning on picking up Extras; while I enjoyed the trilogy, I felt that the character of Tally Youngblood didn’t really have her own personality and allowed all her choices to be made by outside forces. I am glad that I changed my mind as Extras is by far my favourite of them all.
I found it disturbingly easy to relate to Aya’s world. For the first half of the book, all I could think of was the similarities between the ‘streams’ that everyone adds to, and social media in our world. While being almost dystopian, it was still very believable (perhaps more so than we’d like to think) and raises a lot of questions about privacy vs the internet.
I found Aya herself to be a very interesting character. While she appears to want just what everyone else wants, she does have a conscience and a mind of her own which was lacking (in my opinion) in Tally. Likewise the supporting characters were well-formed and interesting, though there were a few, particularly those in the secret clique, that I wish had bigger parts within the story as we only got to glimpse the top of their characters when I am sure they would have been awesome to read about.
Overall I loved this book and would definitely recommend it. If you have read the trilogy, Extras is in a similar style and has the same level of action and questioning. I don’t think you have to have read the trilogy first, though I would say you would get an extra layer of understanding and depth from Extras if you had.