Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Review: Pure by Julianna Baggott

Finished: December 9, 2011

Pages: 448

Book: Goodreads
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (Hachette)

Series: Pure (#1)

Synopsis: We know you are here, our brothers and sisters…
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers…to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash…

There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her. 

You can read an excerpt from Pure at the book’s website. Click on “The Opening Pages” to read.

Pure is one of the most original post-apocalyptic stories I’ve come across. Patridge’s world inside the dome reflects a more familiar setting, the sort of dystopia story we are used to, with residents of the dome living under a strict new set of rules put in place by the new leaders, to supposedly protect them from repeating their tragic history. The citizens of the dome listen to only sanctioned songs, dine on soytex pills for their meals, and only those selected as genetically superior are allowed to breed. Life outside the dome, however, is much different. Both sides of the Dome are filled with characters who long for the littlest bits of the past, and both lives are horrifying, in their own way.

Outside the Dome, the word “good” doesn’t mean what you think it means… Pressia’s world is suffering the after effects of an unusual cocktail of atomic bombs. It hurts the heart to think that my very own country has used atomic bombs against people. These are not things that we can afford to forget. Pressia’s story is not entirely unrealistic, and I think that’s why this story hits so close to home, and felt more terrifying to me than other dystopian plots.

Pressia was definitely my favorite character in the novel. Her personality was endearing. In another environment, Pressia would probably be a quieter character. You see a lot of that in her inner voice. Pressia’s world forces her to be more pragmatic, a survivor, much more than the normal sixteen year old girl that she so desperately wants to be. Pressia was seven when the detonations hit. She does not know what handshakes are and she doesn’t remember eggs or lemonade. Pressia’s journey isn’t one of rebellion. Like all of the kids in this novel, she is just trying to survive in a world gone horribly wrong.
I found the parts of the plot that focused on who got into the Dome to be very interesting. Without giving too much away, those who got into the Dome were very rich, very religious, and very powerful. Before the end, church attendance was a matter of public record, and a group called the “feminine feminists” gave off a very Handmaid’s Tale vibe. The leaders in the Dome choose to describe the people left behind as sick in the head and criminally insane. This is frightening given the state of politics in our world.

Many comparisons are drawn in the novel between Pressia and Partridge’s worlds. What is the definition of beauty? Can it exist inside the Dome walls when most of life inside is fabricated? Can it exist outside where the atomic bombs have caused such destruction and created such deformities? Lyda, a resident of the Dome, spends time looking out a window that has been created to represent the scenery outside, but is not actually real. The window makes Lyda feel manipulated. Outside, Pressia makes beauty out of recycled parts and turns them into birds and other little creatures, despite being ashamed of her own mutation. I think the conclusion is, life outside the Dome will always be more beautiful, because despite everything else it’s real. The survivor’s scars and mutations are beautiful because it means they have survived.

As a side note, I am even more afraid of motherhood after reading this novel. If you’ve read, you will see why! Also, I may never wear gaudy jewelry again.

Recommendation: I do think that Pure will appeal to only a certain reader. Others will find it too dark or too grotesque. The people in Pure tend to have mutations that will make you rather uncomfortable. There also isn’t a whole lot of rebellion here, for those of you who prefer the more action packed “fist pump” dystopias. There is action here, but it’s of a different kind, and much time is spent unraveling how this world came to be and the character’s roles in that. To sum it up: you should read this if you are looking for something different from the genre, you can appreciate a slower story, and you aren’t easily unnerved. It’s worth it.


Four out of Five Coffees

Pure will be released February 28, 2012. You can Pre-Order it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository, and other retailers.

I received an egalley of this title from the Publisher (Grand Central Publishing) via Netgalley. This has in no way affected or influenced my review. I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to provide an early review of this release.

Extras: Want to check out some other perspectives on Pure? Find other early reviews at Ravishing Reads and Reading in the Corner.

Looking for other books similar to this one? You might also like The Hunger Games, Unwind, and Oryx and Crake.

Since there is a bit of a wait until this title is available, this review will be posted again on the release date.


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