All hail Joey King, a stan among stans. King will executive produce and star in the long-awaited adaptation of Scott Westerfeld’s dystopian YA novel, Uglies, for Netflix. According to Deadline, which first reported the news, King has been a longtime fan of the novel series and was “aggressive in pursuing the lead role once Netflix acquired the rights to the novel.”
McG, King’s collaborator on Netflix’s hit romcom The Kissing Booth, will direct. Krista Vernoff, the showrunner of Grey’s Anatomy, will adapt the script. Westerfeld will join the project as an executive producer.
The novel, which debuted in 2005, expanded into a series with four original books, and Westerfeld has continued to add new titles to the Uglies series in recent years. In other words, has a wealth of franchise material on its hands if the first film goes well.
The first three books in the Uglies series follow Tally Youngblood as she goes through a peculiar coming-age-ceremony. At the age of 16, every young adult in Tally’s world undergoes a surgery that strips them of any natural-born imperfections and transforms them into “Pretties,” allowing them to finally interact with the rest of society. But when Tally’s friends refuse to undergo the surgery, her loyalties are tested when she’s threatened by the government to either turn over the dissidents who are uncovering the real purpose of the surgeries — not to make everyone beautiful, but rather to surgically alter their brains to remain shallow and unquestioning of authority — or remain an outcast for life, never to be accepted into proper society. Tally’s struggle to maintain her individuality, her friendships, and her freedom culminates in an explosive battle for the future of humanity. The fourth novel in the series, Extras, pivots to a new character named Aya Fuse, who also tries to make sense of a brave new world in the immediate aftermath of Tally’s journey in the first three books.
Westerfeld also debuted a continuation of the series in 2018 titled Impostors, the first in an additional four Uglies series books. The story focuses on two identical twins’ brutal journey through the Uglies universe, set a decade and a half after the end of the original series.