Shay and David show her the downsides to becoming a “Pretty”. After the operation, new Pretties cross the river that divides the city and lead a new life with no the uglies by scott westerfeld pdf or obligations. Former cities have decayed after bacteria infected the world’s petroleum, making it unstable. The old society, so dependent on oil, fell apart when cars and oil fields exploded and food could no longer be transported.
People who lived before this catastrophe are called “Rusties. Tally Youngblood is almost sixteen. Like every other Ugly, she awaits the operation with great anticipation. Her best friend, Peris, has already had the operation and, motivated by her desire to see him, Tally sneaks across the river to New Pretty Town. There she meets Shay, another Ugly. They become friends and Shay teaches Tally how to ride a hoverboard.
Shay also mentions rebelling against the operation. Smoke, where city runaways go to escape the operation. She gives Tally an ultimatum to either help locate Shay and the Smoke, or never become a pretty. Cable gives her a hoverboard and all the needed supplies to survive in the wild, along with a heart locket that contains a tracking device. Once activated, it will show the location of the Smoke to Special Circumstances. Following Shay’s clues, Tally sets off to find her friend.
When Tally arrives at the Smoke, she finds Shay, her friend David and an entire community of runaway Uglies. She is reluctant to activate the pendant and it eventually becomes clear that David is in love with her. David takes her to meet his parents, Maddy and Az, who are the original runaways from the city. Horrified, Tally decides to keep the Smoke secret and throws the locket into a fire.