New Uglies UK Covers

A fan recently told me about a weird argument she’d had with her friends. She was telling them that Hunger Games reminded her of the Uglies series, and they responded that I must have copied my ideas from HG, because it’s so popular. She pointed out that Uglies was published in 2005 and HG in 2008, but they would not believe her, because HG was EVERYWHERE and therefore it was first.

This is a common human response to reality: We comprehend the world not by its own logic, but by the logic of how we encountered it. In other words, whatever we heard first must be more true and more real and more first than all the other versions out there.

This happens a lot with urban legends. You know, you tell the story of the Mexican Pet to a bunch of people and someone complains, “No, the rat-pet was from Venezuela, not Mexico!” This person has, of course, heard the same urban legend as you, but a slightly different version of it. And for some reason they think that the one they heard must be the correct one. They have NO reason to think this, because both versions are ridiculous and silly and untrue. But that other variant is theirs and so they become Team Venezuelan Pet in this stupid argument. And you all fight late into the night, your positions not based on logic, but on how you first got introduced to the story.

It’s like baby ducks seeing their mother or something. (I will also point out that most people have the same religion as their parents. Just sayin’.)

This phenomenon is part of a larger phenomenon called egocentrism. Not egotism, which is thinking that you are the best, but egocentrism, the assumption that your personal experiences are central and somehow universal.

But here’s the irony in applying this egocentric logic to the reading of books: The modern novel was invented as a way of being inside someone else’s life.

Think about it. Every word of Hunger Games and Uglies was carefully chosen to create the experience of being in Katinss’ or Tally’s head. This is why neither book has the line, “Gentle reader, unlike the people of your time, no one in this future world knows what an iPad is.” Because that would put you back in your life and ruin the whole point of modern narrative.

I keep saying “modern” because it wasn’t always this way. When the novel was a younger form, lots of them started with some sort of leisurely preamble, like, “This strange tale you are about to read was discovered in an old sea chest blah blah blah.” But in novels these days, the first sentences usually go BOOM THESE ARE SOMEONE ELSE’S THOUGHTS—DEAL WITH IT. Like, “When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.”

It’s the opposite of egocentrism, letting yourself become another person for a few hours. Especially when that person lives in a radically different reality, like a post-scarcity utopia or a post-apocalyptic wasteland. This departure from self is essential to reading novels, and it’s one of the ways that reading makes us better people. (It’s key to writing as well, which is why I gave this advice three years ago.)

Of course, there’s also a positive side of making our egos central to the reading process: When we read new books, we use the knowledge gained from all the other books we’ve read. We supplement the story of a novel with the story of our own reading history. This is a major reason why people can react to the same novel differently, like this:

New Reader: “I had no idea that Romantic Lead 1 and Romantic Lead 2 were going to get together. They HATED each other at first!”

Slightly More Experienced Reader: “That book was stupid. I knew from the first chapter that Romantic Lead 1 and Romantic Lead 2 were going to get together!”

Experienced Reader: “It’s cool what the author did with Romantic Lead 1 and Romantic Lead 2 in that scene, because that will make it more ironic when they get together later.”

This is in fact the major way we can tell how sophisticated a reader is, by how they relate the text in question to all the other things they’ve read.

But I’ll leave all the subtler points of readerly ego in your capable hands. I’m curious how your experiences with other writers’ novels changed your view of mine, whichever order you read them in. Let me know in the comments.

Of course, here is where I reveal that this was all a leisurely preamble to my own news: My UK publisher has released new covers for the Uglies series, featuring a crass-tastic tagline that will solve all problems of priority forever and ever!

Yes, gentle reader. They went there.

106 thoughts on “New Uglies UK Covers

  1. @3 Interestingly enough, one review of Hunger Games says “it’s Modelland meet The Gladiator”.

    People seem to underestimate the whole premise of archetypes in modern reading. The Hunger Games archetype has been around before books even existed. But Scott’s right, it’s the way stories are told that changes everything.

    I remember some of my early stuff was really dry and anti-egocentric. A comment I constantly received was “who the heck is the main character.” Needless to say, that changed…

    But yeah, the thing about reading is the readers themselves. Like my sister has read dozens more books than me, but she has a very immature view on plots. So, it depends on the person, I guess.

  2. @54

    There’s nothing wrong with being egocentric, it’s just a perspective thing.
    It’s the egotistical and egomaniacal parts of us we need to look out for.

  3. @46 – Yep. I think the term ‘egocentrism’ applies to many fields. I remember studying it in my high school’s psychology class… or was it the sociology class? But anthropology ties in with both psychology and sociology eventually, yea?

    Also, I just picked up my copy of So Yesterday a couple of weeks ago. I got mine at Ollie’s, which is kind of a leftover discount store. Basically all surplus items end up in that store. It’s pretty local though so if you aren’t around in the northeastern USA you probably won’t have the store to browse through. I get most of my books there. My local Ollie’s had several So Yesterday copies. If you really want maybe we can work out a mailed package? Let me know. I know how frustrating it is to look for a certain book you’re dying to read but can’t get a hold of a personal copy. *grumbles* My local Barnes & Nobles is seriously lacking lately.

  4. I already weighed in but I reread the article and wanted to comment on another aspect. Most people in the world are followers, So Yesterday represents this well. Take my class for example, there are two groups of girls. One of them is a group of followers they wear the same clothes, they all have Vera Bradley backpacks and lunch boxes, are cheerleaders, and have no personality.Then there is us. We all are completely different wear whatever we feel like and are very umm.. Unique. I think innovators(to use the SYterm)are more likely to be experienced, intelligent readers because they don’t just read what’s popular they read what they want.
    Also on the religion topic I do see a connection. This guy and I decided to do a survey of the kids in our class and what their religions are. Almost everyone said a form of Christian except for my one friend who said Taoist and the guy and I who are atheist. the three smartest kids in my class ( I’m counting myself because it’s widely acknowledged not to be egotistical) are the guy and I ( aforementioned atheists) and my good friend Giana who is very catholic. Make of this what you will.

  5. *Scoffs* The Hunger Games is cool. But the Uglies series is a true classic and NO ONE!! can take that away from you Scott. It’s actually possible that the Hunger Games was a copied idea from a Japanese book. Scott you stay origional and always keep us on edge. What I say is RISE SCOTT WESTERFELDIANS! RISE AND SHOW WHO IS ONE OF THE BEST WRITERS EVER! I will not take the gargbage that trashes your books Scott. You inspire people. You kept me awake at night reading your books cause I couldn’t stand not knowing what was gonna happen next. I LAUGH at the Hunger Games (though it is a good book) and say, “HA! If specials where in the hunger games with Katniss and Peeta. Guess who would win? SPECIALS! And guess what SPECIALS would win TALLY AND SHAY! They’d kick that district 12 BUTT!” And so I say Scott. Uglies is superior to the Hunger Games. KEEP WRITING AND NEVER STOP!!!!

  6. @ 59

    I just find explaining things fun. Even if I’m the only one that listens. Sometimes it’s more fun to just hear yourself figure things out.


    The reason you three are the smartest kids in class probably has to do with the fact that you chose to believe what you believe and therefore have some sense of identity. Personally I’m Mormon and it’s because I chose to be. The reason most Athiests aren’t stupid is because they chose to be. No one forced them. They have identity. Isn’t it amazing what a little free will can do?

  7. *Cracks up* I feel at fault for these 😉 haha… We still love Uglies Scott-la 😉 even if my profile picture is normally a mockingjay, I named my puppy Zane 😉 😀

  8. Beautiful explanation Scott-la! I especially like the UK covers- good to see someone has escaped the hysteria that is The Hunger Games. I do like the series tho…but after what they did to Cinna I lost a bit of respect.

    Man, it’s been forever since I checked this place out…I really need to start coming back!

  9. @ TheWordMaster: Only after Cinna? haha … 😉 I still love ’em, though definately coulda not done such things to Cinna…

  10. Gah, I kind of cringed at those covers. Both because of the exacto knife (which means I was probably reacting the way the publisher-people wanted) and because of the Hunger Games line, because although I know Uglies-the-book is singular, it sounds really clunky and wrong to have a “was” there.

  11. X-acto knives- the sworn enemy of clumsy people. Especially me… but I do somewhat like the whole black color scheme… *says the girl who dresses in almost all black* @62 I know! I haven’t been here FOREVER because I gave it up for Lent… what was I thinking…

  12. *afterword to characteristically long-winded comment which happens to be entirely unrelated* Mr. Scott-person-la-or-whatnot, what it the ETA for the Manual of Aeronautics?

  13. I wish they didn’t go there but I guess your publisher wants to have the series more popular again with bringing in the Hunger Games name. I love the Hunger Game series but love The Uglies series as well and read Uglies first since it came out in 2005.

    Both book are different and have different agendas/themes.

  14. That story makes me almost as sad as hearing someone call Battle Royale a rip off of the Hunger Games. That had to have been the closest a white person has ever come to shouting meaningless Japanese while violently murdering people with a terrible quality Katana.

  15. This was a great post, and I laughed. I can’t believe that line is on your cover. It’s great though, because your Uglies series got me into the whole dystopian thing in the first place. And whenever I rate a book on Amazon, if it was bad I recommend your series instead, along with a few others I’ve liked recently (Divergent, Cinder). I feel like you’re kind of responsible for the dystopian boom in YA books, and I thank you for it. In that respect, I think that’s a great tagline. You started it all and you should get the recognition for it. Not to mention it’s still one of the best YA dystopian series of all time, in my completely unbiased opinion.

  16. Also on religion, it turns out that if Christians were born anywhere other than a non-dominant Christian country (a la America), they would probably be the religion of THAT country.

    Food for thought.

  17. I got into the books later (after so yesterday and Leviathan) but I love Utopian stories. that being said I prefer Uglies to Hunger Games. any day.

  18. I love the snarkiness of the covers.

    And your notes on egocentrism. I never thought of that before and I definitely can appreciate noting the fact. Sort of in a similar way that John Green says the universe wants to be noticed. We forget that our experiences are only a small part of the rest of the world around us.

  19. THOSE ARE SOME SASS PANTS COVERS. i read the hunger games the year it came out (which was like four years ago) and i could probably go on for a while about how good they are. but the whole “THAT AUTHOR STOLE THAT” is a little……well lets just say it happens a lot. Suzanne Collins was accused a hundred times over with copying from some Japanese movie. A lot of people say that Suzanne Collins opened up a new door into the realm of Dystopian books kind of like the Twilight series opened up the Vampire door, but its not like there weren’t good vampire books already there! same with the hunger games, because there were good Dystopian/ utopian books way before The Hunger Games (UGLIES!!!)


  20. Amen!

    Heck, most sci-fi/fantasy novels are based on ideas of something or someone else. I love it when someone has an idea that I can take a whole new spin on. Heck, if we really want to get right down to it, we can say that every distopean novel is based off Isac Assamov and every fantasy novel is based off JRR Tolkien. Embrace it, accept it, move on. If we didn’t have books like Scott’s books and the Hunger Games (both books that make us think) the we wouldn’t progress in literature at all.

  21. yeah I read an article once that said that there are only like 30 something plot lines in the universe and that all those other books are variations of that plot line.

  22. Well, all mystery novels fall into one of five categories created by Edgar Allen Poe. So technically, all mystery novels are ripoffs!

  23. Clever!!! Love the new covers. Uglies does need more awareness, and I really hope it’ll help the movie happen sooner.

  24. I recently finished the Hunger Games trilogy, although it was awesome it doesn’t compare with the EPICNESS of Uglies. When reading Uglies I hid in my room for a week because I couldn’t stop reading. Uglies is WAY better than Hunger Games.

  25. HI!!!!!! It is so good to be back! Although, I am wondering, where is Rachel, M@X, Zaliz, Sophie and who ever I forgot from when I was in the Wester-obsessers? Either I have missed a lot during Lent or none of you guys are posting any more. Well, I also have some relatively bad news. I am quitting the Wester-obsessers for good. It’s been fun and I will still be watching this blog and commenting and maybe submitting fan-art but I will no longer be part of your threads. See ya later, peeps. Sincerely ;), Levi.

  26. I find this very funny because I just finished reading The Hunger Games two days ago and when of my first thoughts was

    “I always thought that the Rusties in Uglies were US but what if the timeline actually went; Now, the world of Panem, the world of Uglies.”


    What really made me start thinking this was how at the end when Katniss is super thin from being in the arena and Cinna tells her they wanted to give her surgery to make her breasts larger, which since they’d knocked her out, would have been against her consent. This plus the fact that everyone in the Capitol dresses all crazy with modifications makes it seem as though Panem is only a few steps away from Pretties.

  27. Interesting about Poe. Was talking about him 5 seconds ago with someone else. Another interesting thing? Most action adventures are based off Homer’s work. My English teacher blamed it on archetypes. Awesome. Archetypes have been around since before writing was invented. I think we’re safe to blame them! muahahaha!

  28. I will say that Uglies will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the first dystopian science fiction story I had ever read, and it was amazing. Then I read the Hunger Games a year later. I loved it as well, I loyally checked the fansites everyday and dreamed that both Uglies and HG would become movies.

    Then all this happened. How everyone is reading Hunger Games, and praising it, and saying they are huge fans. As someone who adored it before it was even announced it was going to be a movie, this ticks me off. As happy as I am for it, I hate that most people only know it now because it is a wildly successful movie. Then I look at your books, and wonder if this will ever happen with Uglies. It is a possibility, you have such a good story here, and now with a movie being planned…

    These UK covers are pathetic. I’ve already seen so many books with “The next Hunger Games” or “Fans of the Hunger Games will adore it”. How dare they taint Uglies with such a wannabe phrase on the cover…and yet it is so funny.

    Wow I’ve been ranting. Anyways, I’ll close with this: Uglies and HG are very different, but are both wonderful stories.

  29. OMG AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Uglies are my inspiration, Pretties delve into my morales and Specials show me whats important in life. You’ve taught 3 important life lessons to me, even in Peeps and The Last Days.

  30. the strength of our will and our determination to follow our own path is our motivation. Thats what makes us PRETTY and SPECIAL. humanity doesn’t need an operation to be beautiful, it just needs a change in heart to what really matters.

  31. Ugh… I JUST noticed the Hunger Games thing. *junior senior moment* I mean, I LIKED the Hunger Games a WHOLE lot, but they shouldn’t be throwing two completely different things together like that!
    Heaven forbid they do that with Harry Potter. o_0

  32. Scott, have you realized that it’s been 3 weeks since the last FAF? And that was really a Fan Art Saturday.


  34. That was rather interesting to read. I’ve had those thoughts before about writing but it’s good to hear it in another voice. I read uglies before hunger games and they were opossites to me but if te same genre. I saw that these two stories could be the next rivals because they were both formed off of a future that went wrong. They are two branches of what could happen, kinda. I have always said that hunger games and uglies could be the next Harry potter vs twilight (meaning the epic rivalry). This is why your book needs to be a movie! I’ll be an ugly fan for sure (though I liked hunger games too). I just thought it was something that made my thought about perfection very clear.

  35. Before the Hunger games there was…

    This simple tagline is what brought me to this site after reading my way through Uglies, Pretties and Specials.

    The Hunger Games Triology and The Uglies are very diverse. Though each are set in a dystopian future and feature a female heroin whos fate is faulted by others. Both are horrific and thought provoking in their own ways.

    But more importantly I love both.

    Thanks to your Uk Publisher and your pretty-making writing, I discovered Zane, David and of course Tally; oh and you earned a new fan. Therefore I thank you both.

    P.s The books would make great Movies, I look forward to them with my fingers crossed.

  36. I read the Uglies series when I was in the eighth grade, and fell in love! Now the series rests on a special shelf in my room, where I keep all of my favorite books. I am currently a junior in high school and have just recently read The Hunger Games. While I thoroughly enjoyed the series, I felt that I was constantly comparing the books to Uglies. I had a similar conversation with my friends, as the conversation described in the article. I told my friends that the Hunger Games seemed similar to the the Uglies, most of my friends haven’t read the Uglies so there wasn’t much of a dispute, but reading The Hunger Games made me think a lot about Tally. I believe that the characters of Tally and Katniss are a lot alike. They are strong, female leads and they both have to deal with issues in their government system. They are both adventurous, outdoorsy, and extremely clever. Some of the circumstances they are put through and their reactions are similar as well. Such as, the fact that both are used as pawns of their government systems. While I was reading The Hunger Games I oftentimes found myself calling Katniss, Tally. I believe that most futuristic novels have certain traits that will tie them together, and that it is in human nature to compare present circumstances with past experiences. The Uglies will always hold a place in my heart, and will be the point of comparison for every dystopian novel I read. I truly believe that it’s not about which book gets the most public recognition, true fans know which novel came first, and in my opinion the Uglies is definitely better than the Hunger Games, due to its freshness and the fact that each book packed a new punch. There were no repeats, like there was a repeat of the Games in Catching Fire. I am excited to hear that there will be an Uglies movie, and I hope that it will live up to the book. Hang in there Scott, your books will get the recognition they deserve, in due time. Anyway, isn’t it better to have a long-lasting following then to be a part of a passing fad?

  37. This is late, and no one will probably never read this, but I just had to say this:

  38. 😮 I am getting those, one way are the other, doesn’t matter if I already have copies I AM GETTING THOSE.

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