Pure by Julianna Baggott
Published: February 8, 2012
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
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.
When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.
Review by Kayla:
In Pure, Baggott creates a post-apocalyptic world where the various survivors of the Detonations are pushed together in this dystopian thriller. There are two factions of survivors – the Pures, who are in a radiation-resistant Dome when the Detonations struck; and the Wretches, the poor souls who were unfortunate enough to be in the unprotected outside.
The story itself focuses on two very different individuals – Pressia Belze and Partridge Willux. Pressia lives in the remains of a city outside of the Dome and is nearing her sixteenth birthday. She and her grandfather are plotting a way to hide her from the OSR, the outside militia government that takes away surviving children once they turn sixteen, never to be seen or heard from again. Inside the Dome, Partridge lives a privileged life as the son of one of the most important men in the protected environment. Despite his advantaged status, he finds himself asking questions about why he made it into the Dome and what really happened to his mother who died in the Detonations.
I am not going to comment too much on the plot. There are so many twists and turns, that I could easily give something away without meaning to do it. All of that aside, this is an exquisitely written story about survival and relationships in a very ugly, filthy, and violent world. Unlike more popular post-apocalyptic young adult novels, this one is far more believable for me. I do not believe something could change the entire structure of humanity without changing the people and their environment. It is probable and, to be honest, terrifying. The former English major in me immediately wanted to dissect this story into all of its glorious pieces.
The secondary characters were one of my favorite aspects of the story, and it would not have been as successful without them. The Mothers are one example. Their mere existence in the story is important because of what they represent in that horrible world. One of my favorite lines in the story concerns them. “And some have no children, and, next to all of the others, they seem stripped, pared down, as if whittled to some smaller version of themselves.” (Chapter 32 – Uncorrected ARC) Pure is a novel of so much loss, and that line speaks volumes in itself. It made me ask myself if that description could also be applied to the Pures. Near the end of the story, there is a Special Forces soldier who tells one of the main characters, “I was. And now I am not.” That is something that each character in the entire book can say.
It was a slow start for me, but I ended up loving this book. It is gritty, graphic, and horrifying throughout, but one of the most beautiful reads that I have had the pleasure of experiencing.
A copy was provided by the publisher for review through Net Galley.
About the author:
Julianna Baggott is the best-selling author of eighteen books in fifty foreign editions. She had her first book published in her twenties and soon reached her best-seller status. Julianna also writes under the pen names of N.E. Bode and Bridget Asher. Along with her impressive career as an author, she is an associate professor at Florida State University and co-founder of the non-profit organization Kids in Need-Books in Deed.