Tally is the 16-year-old protagonist of Uglies. She is characterized as mischievous, good-hearted, and beauty-obsessed. Her dearest wish is to undergo the operation that will turn her pretty. When Special Circumstances forces Tally to pursue Shay and reveal the location of the Smoke or be denied the surgery, Tally faces a life-altering decision: betray her friend or remain ugly forever. She undergoes a substantial emotional transformation throughout the novel. While she is initially convinced of the ethics and necessity of the surgery, by the end Tally realizes that the surgery is immoral and she is living in a tyrannical surveillance state.
Shay is Tally’s close friend, adventurous and independent-minded. Her escape to the Smoke is the major catalyst for the events of the book. Toward the end of the novel, she is captured by the Specials and turned into a pretty against her will.
David is Tally’s love interest and the child of the founders of the Smoke. He is naive and idealistic, hard-working and passionate about those he loves. Knowing the secret of being pretty has made him vehemently opposed to the mandatory surgery. He has grown up in the wild and never lived within the constraints of mainstream society.
Dr. Cable is the Special who forces Tally to betray the location of the Smoke and the main antagonist of the novel. She is cruel and terrifying, having been surgically altered to look predatory and to have superhuman physical capabilities.
Maddy is David’s mother and co-founder of the Smoke. She used to be a doctor in charge of the surgical committee in the city, but escaped with her husband when they discovered the secret behind the surgery.
Az is David’s father and co-founder of the Smoke. He used to be a surgeon in the city and escaped alongside his wife when they discovered the secret behind the surgery. He is killed by the Specials when they take the Smokies captive.
Croy is Shay’s old friend and a Smokie who escaped before Shay. He is the first person to be suspicious of Tally’s sudden arrival to the Smoke.
The Boss is the librarian and de-facto leader of the Smoke. He is curmudgeonly and cares most for the "Rusty" books and magazines in his library, remnants of the previous society. He is killed by the Specials while attempting to smuggle a selection of magazines out of the settlement during the invasion.
Sol is Tally’s father. He is loyal to the government and a woodworker. He believes Shay to be a bad influence and encourages Tally to betray her.
Ellie is Tally’s mother. Like her husband, she is loyal to the government. She believes Shay to be a wayward child and encourages Tally to betray her because it is in Shay’s best interest to return.
Peris is Tally’s erstwhile best friend, who turned pretty before her. He is characterized as shallow and self-absorbed. He wants Tally to betray Shay because then she will turn pretty and join him in the city, where her adventures will boost his popularity.
Uglies (The Uglies) Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Uglies (The Uglies) is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Uglies is set in a post-scarcity future dystopia in which individuals are forced to undergo mandatory cosmetic surgery so that their appearance matches the culture's beauty ideal. This future world has been created as a direct result of a lab...
When Shay and Tally move into the ruins, they ride the roller coaster. It is Tally's first time, and she doesn't know that there's a break in the track that will cause her hoverboard to momentarily fail. Tally gets angry at Shay because she didn't...