Mind-Rain:Your Favorite Authors on Scott Westerfeld's Uglies Series, edited and with an introduction by Scott Westerfeld (2009, BenBella Books).
This compilation of essays is a true gift to those who love this series. Imagine the most thoughtful, articulate writers you know, all focusing their considerable talents on a discussion of your favorite books. That's the reality of this collection of essays. Plenty of insights about the books that I had never thought of, some things to disagree with, some wonderful oh yes moments...
My favorite essay argues that Shay is the real hero of the series--"Best Friends for Never," by Robin Wasserman. Wasserman digs behind the actual words of the books to follow trains of thought and lines of evidence that lead to new and interesting conclusions. If this were an essay I was grading, I would give it as high a grade possible based on the clever and insightful analysis of what isn't explicitly said. Westerfeld, who has written introductionlets for each essay, muses that after reading this one, he might have to re-write the story from Shay's point of view.
Does Shay want more than friendship from Tally? In "Team Shay," Diana Peterfreund argues that yes, she does! Then there's Team David vs Team Zane, discussed in "Two Princes," by Sarah Beth Durst. On a more serious note, some essays touch on the issues of beauty and conformity, discussions for which the Uglies series provides a most excellent springboard.
And as a final bonus, there are Ted Chiang's short story "Liking What You See," and Charles Beaumonts "The Beautiful People," both of which Westerfeld credits as inspiring his own creation.
If I were teaching a lit crit class, I might be tempted to use these essays as examples of how different people can visit the same world, and all find some compelling aspect to explore more deeply. That being said, I've never taken, or taught, a lit crit class, except for a class about Chaucer, but I have taken plenty of history classes where the group was asked to read and write about the same primary source, and each of us found something of our own to say, as did the authors of these essays.
I feel, however, certain that fans of the series will love this book. How can you not love chatting about books you love with smart, insightful, people?
Here's another look at Mind-Rain at Becky's Book Reviews.