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Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld(1963- )
Scott Westerfeld ghost writes for some famous authors (but he won’t say who, of course). He is married to fantasy author Justine Larbalestier. Read Mr. Westerfeld’s comments about his books at his website.

Uglies: Recommended for teens with issues

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld's Uglies is a futuristic teen adventure book that will keep even adult readers enthralled from the first page.

Tally is ready to be pretty. When you turn sixteen in this futuristic world, you are plucked from school and taken to have the “operation” that turns you from an Ugly into a Pretty. When you're pretty you can do anything. You get to move to New Pretty Town and party all night long if you choose and Tally can't wait to join her friends who have already “turned.”

By turn of chance Tally meets Shay. Another “Ugly” like herself who happens to share her birthday. As their friendship grows and they embark on new adventures together, Shay lets Tally in on her secret: She doesn't want to be pretty. Tally can't understand her new friend's defiance and refuses to run away with her. When the authorities find out that Shay is missing howe... Read More

Pretties: A sequel that doesn’t disappoint

Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

Finally, a sequel that does not disappoint!

Tally finally has all she ever wanted: She's pretty, she's popular, she's in the coolest clique in New Pretty Town.

What could possibly go wrong now?

Nothing does... until the night of the coolest costume party ever when a blast from the past shows up and leaves her a mystery to follow. All of a sudden Tally and her new friend Zane not only have a mystery to solve, but two tiny white pills to take... and no clue what they will do to them.

Once again, Scott Westerfeld has whisked us off to a sci-fi adventure world with more twists and turns that even a Hoverboard can handle.

I can't wait to read the next book!

Julie Waineo, one of our earliest guest reviewers, earned an MBA at Bowling Green State University. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Internati... Read More

Specials: Read it to satisfy your curiosity

Specials by Scott Westerfeld

Tally has changed since she was caught by Special Circumstances. She has become one of them: a Special. Her body and mind have been altered and she is now an elite fighting machine with super-fast reflexes and a hardened body that can withstand almost anything…but none of this can really make her happy. Tally is surrounded by "friends," but none of them can take away her memories of her friends from the Smoke and the lessons they taught her. Then she and Shay get a breakthrough and once again whiz off into the wild on their hoverboards searching for the elusive "New Smoke" where the rebels are said to be hiding. If they can find the New Smoke and bring their boss Dr. Cable to it, their lives will be easy at last… or so they think.

Although it was great to be back in Scott Westerfeld's futuristic world which I have come to know and love, Specials lacked a certain charm that... Read More

Leviathan: A wonderful mix of the utterly original and the familiar

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Leviathan is the beginning of a new steampunk YA series by Scott Westerfeld, author of other well-known (and highly recommended) YA series such as Uglies and Midnighters, along with one of my favorite non-YA science fiction works of recent memory, The Risen Empire (even more highly recommended). As is usual with good YA, don’t let the label turn you away; Westerfeld knows how to write for a younger audience without dumbing things down and without excluding older readers.

Leviathan is set in a mostly familiar historical world just on the cusp of World War I. Familiar... Read More

Behemoth: A fun, smart series for all ages

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

Behemoth is Scott Westerfeld’s follow-up to Leviathan, the first book in a new steampunk series set in an alternative Europe on the edge of WWI with the Austro-Hungarians and Germans (“Clankers”) using steam-driven machines and the British and their allies (“Darwinists”) using genetic engineering. Leviathan was one of my best reads of 2009, and Behemoth would have been on my list for 2010 had I gotten around to reading it by the time I compiled my list. It has all the usual Westerfeld strengths and it keeps this series rolling along.

The setting for Behemoth has shifted to Constantinople/Istanbul (depending on who is speaking, and I defy you not to have the They Might Be Giants song not playing in your head as you read) as both the Clanker... Read More

Goliath: The thrilling conclusion to the trilogy

Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

Goliath is the concluding third book in Scott Westerfeld’s LEVIATHAN trilogy (imagine that — a trilogy with only three books) and it brings a wonderfully entertaining YA steampunk/alternate WWI series to a suitably strong close. I won’t bother recapping the world or background since you really need to read books one and two first, so read my review of Leviathan (above) to catch up on the backstory if you’d like.

Goliath picks up shortly after the events of Behemoth, with the British airship Leviathan cruising over the frozen waste of Siberia, having been diverted there on a top-secret rescue mission. Our two heroes — airman Dylan/Deryn Sharp (recall she’s masquerading as a boy) and heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne Al... Read More

Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld

Spill Zone written by Scott Westerfeld illustrated by Alex Puvilland

Scott Westerfeld’s newest story, Spill Zone, is a graphic novel illustrated by Alex Puvilland that takes place several years after Poughkeepsie suffered a major “spill,” and while nobody knows exactly what that entailed, nanotechnology and a nuclear power plant are mentioned as being involved. Whatever it was changed things inside the city, leaving behind fantastical creatures, changed animals, and “meat puppets” (think zombies). Addison’s twelve-year-old sister Lexa escaped that night, driven out on a bus with some other school children by a mysterious driver. Her parents, working at the hospital that night, did not. Addison herself was out of the city that night partying. Now she takes care of her sister (who hasn’t spoken sinc... Read More

Imposters: A semi-successful return to the world of UGLIES

Impostors by Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld has long been one of the best YA authors going, with multiple stories well worth a read, including the UGLIES, LEVIATHAN, and MIDNIGHTERS series, all of which are top-notch. And his SUCCESSION sci-fi series, more adult in nature, is absolutely great. So a new title from him is big news, made even bigger when we learn it’s a return to his beloved UGLIES trilogy. Honestly, it’s hard to live up to that sort of expectation, and unfortunately, I have to say title one in the new series, Impostors (2018), doesn’t do so. That’s not to say it’s a bad book; it just doesn’t reach the same level as Westerfeld’s other work. And even with that said, I’m pretty sure younger readers, its target audi... Read More

Shatter City: A fast-paced follow-up to Impostors

Shatter City by Scott Westerfeld

Shatter City (2019) is the sequel to Scott Westerfeld’s Impostors, a set of four novels extending his UGLIES series by picking up roughly a decade after that earlier quartet ended. As I noted in my review of Impostors, this series doesn’t quite match the high quality of those earlier books, and seems aimed at a somewhat younger audience, but still retains enough of Westerfeld’s plotting strengths to make for an often exhilarating read. Fair warning, some inevitable spoilers for book one ahead.

The first point to note is you’ll definitely want to have read Impostors before picking up Shatter City. I won’t bot... Read More

Sympathy for the Devil: A collection of bedtime stories

Sympathy for the Devil edited by Tim Pratt

Please allow me to introduce Sympathy for the Devil, a fine new anthology filled entirely with short stories about the devil... who is, as we all know, a man of style and taste. However, you won’t just find the smooth-talking stealer of souls here. In addition to that famous version of His Grand Infernal Majesty, you’ll also find funny devils, monstrous devils, abstract devils and strangely realistic ones. Devils scary and not-so-scary, devils who are after children’s souls and others going after old men. Devils with a surprising amount of business acumen, and devils who try to get what they want, no matter the cost. There’s even one who engages in a competitive eating contest — the prize is, of course, someone’s soul.

Sympathy for the Devil, edited by Tim Pratt, offers up 35 very diverse short stories (and o... Read More

Zombies vs. Unicorns: Fun YA anthology

Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier

Back in 2007, Holly Black and Justine Larabalestier got in an argument about which fiction creature was superior — zombies or unicorns. Spurred on by that debate, they each recruited some of their author friends to write short tales in which they present the storytelling possibilities of the two mythic beasts. With header notes for each story in which they discuss the historical background for the different takes on the creatures, Holly Black heads up Team Unicorn, and Justine Larbalestier heads up Team Zombie.

Writing for Team Unicorn, we have Kathleen Duey, Read More

More speculative fictions by Scott Westerfeld

Succession — (2003) Publisher: From the acclaimed author of Fine Prey, Polymorph, and Evolution’s Darling (Philip K. Dick Award special citation and a New York Times Notable Book) comes a sweeping epic, The Risen Empire, Scott Westerfeld’s dazzling hardcover debut. The undead Emperor has ruled his mighty interstellar empire of eighty human worlds for sixteen hundred years. Because he can grant a form of eternal life, creating an elite known as the Risen, his power has been absolute. He and his sister, the Child Empress, who is eternally a little girl, are worshiped as living gods. No one can touch them. Not until the Rix, machine-augmented humans who worship very different gods: AI compound minds of planetary extent. The Rix are cool, relentless fanatics, and their only goal is to propagate such AIs throughout the galaxy. They seek to end, by any means necessary, the Emperor’s prolonged tyranny of one and supplant it with an eternal cybernetic dynasty of their own. They begin by taking the Child Empress hostage. Captain Laurent Zai of the Imperial Frigate Lynx is tasked with her rescue. Separated by light-years, bound by an unlikely love, Zai and pacifist senator Nara Oxham must each in their own way, face the challenge of the Rix, and they each will hold the fate of the empire in their hands. The Risen Empire is the first great space opera of the twenty-first century.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsfantasy and science fiction book reviews

Midnighters — (2004-2006) Young adult. Publisher: A few nights after Jessica Day arrives in Bixby, Oklahoma, she wakes up at midnight to find the entire world frozen, except for her and a few others who call themselves ‘midnighters’. Dark things haunt this midnight hour — dark things with a mysterious interest in Jessica. The question is why; The Secret Hour is a compelling tale of dark secrets, midnight romance, eerie creatures, courage, destiny, and unexpected peril.

Midnighters Scott Westerfeld THe Secret Hour, Touching Darkness, Blue NoonMidnighters Scott Westerfeld THe Secret Hour, Touching Darkness, Blue NoonMidnighters Scott Westerfeld THe Secret Hour, Touching Darkness, Blue Noon

Peeps — (2005-2006) Young adult. Publisher: One year ago, Cal Thompson was a college freshman more interested in meeting girls and partying in New York City than in attending his biology classes. Now, after a fateful encounter with a mysterious woman named Morgan, biology has become, literally, Cal’s life. Cal was infected by a parasite that has a truly horrifying effect on its host. Cal himself is a carrier, unchanged by the parasite, but he’s infected the girlfriends he’s had since Morgan — and all have turned into the ravening ghouls Cal calls peeps. The rest of us know them as vampires. And it’s Cal’s job to hunt them down before they can create even more of their kind… Bursting with the sharp intelligence and sly humor that are fast becoming his trademark, Scott Westerfeld’s new novel is an utterly original take on an archetype of horror.

Scott Westerfeld Peeps, The Last DaysScott Westerfeld Peeps, The Last Days

Stand-alone novels:

Scott Westerfeld PolymorphPolymorph — (1997) Publisher: Gifted with the ability to change her gender and ethnicity at will, a young woman moves anonymously through a futuristic New York City society. She thinks she’s unique until she happens upon another of her kind, one who is all-too willing to use his abilities for his own sinister ends. Now she must stop this renegade shapeshifter out to seize control of the entire post-industrial world — where illusion wears the face of reality and the ultimate prize is absolute power!

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsFine Prey — (1997) Publisher: At the Aya School, human children learn alien culture in a completely restricted environment to enable them to compete in the politics and economy of an alien-influenced Earth. The finest student of the school is a member of the Fine Hunt circuit, an outgrowth of traditional horse racing. As one of the up-and-coming “riders”, the student is lured into the seedier world of the Claw Hunt, and discovers what the Aya aliens have really been teaching!

fantasy and science fiction book reviews

Evolution’s Darling — (2000) Publisher: Does a clone have a soul? Darling, an astronavigational control unit and personal companion, achieves sentience and wants to know. Now, 200 years and an artificial body later, he is off in search of a dead artist, a living artwork, and the forces behind a mystery that spans the universe. Accompanied by a female assassin, he’ll confront the Maker and get the answer.

Scott Westerfeld So YesterdaySo Yesterday — (2004) Publisher: We are all around you. You don’t think about us much, because we are invisible. Well, not exactly invisible. A lot of us have hair dyed in four colours, or wear five-inch platform sneakers, or carry enough metal in our skin that it’s a hassle getting on an airplane. Quite visible, actually, come to think of it. But we don’t wear signs saying what we are. After all, if you knew what we were up to, we couldn’t work our magic. We have to observe carefully, and push and prompt you in ways you don’t notice. Like good teachers, we let you think you’ve discovered the truth on your own.And you need us. Someone has to guide you, to mould you, to make sure that today turns into yesterday on schedule. Because frankly, without us to monitor the situation, who knows what would get crammed down your throats? It’s not like you can just start making your own decisions, after all.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsStupid Perfect World — (2000) Publisher: In this future-set novella by bestselling author Scott Westerfeld, Kieran Black lives in a “perfect” world. Disease and starvation have been eradicated, sleep is unnecessary, and it takes no time at all to go from the Bahamas to the moon. But now Kieran has to take Scarcity, a class about how people lived in the bad old days. And as if sitting through an hour of Scarcity every day wasn’t depressing enough, it’s final projects time. Each student must choose some form of ancient hardship to experience for two whole weeks. Kieran chooses having to sleep eight hours a night, which doesn’t seem too annoying. Maria Borsotti has never thought much of Kieran, but she decides to take pity on him and help him out with his project. Soon, Kieran is sleeping and having vivid dreams, while Maria, whose Scarcity project is to give up all teenage hormone regulation, is experiencing emotions she never knew she had. As their assignments draw them closer together, they begin to wonder if the olden days weren’t so bad. Maybe something has been missing from their perfect lives after all?