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I Belong

Review: Pure by Julianna Baggott

Title: Pure

Author: Julianna Baggott

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Series: Pure Trilogy (Book 1)

Publication Date: Feb 8, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 431 Pages

ISBN-10: 1455503061 (Hachette)

ISBN-13: 978-1455503063 (Hachette)

Reviewed by: Emmy


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.

Quick & Dirty: A gritty combination of fantasy and science fiction, with flawed characters who face hard challenges as the reader grows to love them.

Opening Sentence: Pressia is lying in the Cabinet.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review

Don’t get intimidated by the prologue. Baggott throws her readers into Pure’s world headfirst, but it all clears up reasonably fast once you read the first chapter or so. This novel is a fantasy-science fiction, making for a stunning and intense read. This isn’t a normal young adult novel. The world is devastated, people are suffering, and Baggott doesn’t pull her punches. People are literally putting themselves back together, so before you pick Pure make sure you’ve prepared your heart to go through the twister.

Our two main protagonists are Pressia, our 16 year old heroine living on the outside, and Partridge, the hero desperate to escape his unmarred life in the Dome. I didn’t like Pressia at first, but grew to love her as the novel went on.  Partridge’s quest for his mother was one I fell into much faster, and as a hero I found his character very satisfying. There are a lot of POVs in Pure, however, and while each character is unique enough to hold their own, getting to know each took time and pages. All these broken characters kept the emotional tension ratcheted up, but slowed the novel down. On the flip side, I can’t see the novel told any other way. In Pure there is a thin thread that connects all the characters together, and I have to admit there is a special place in my heart for author’s who can do it so perfectly.

The book is character driven. It’s lethargic and slow in a lot of places, tense and heart wrenching in others. On the whole, the book might have been too long for a novel so intense. It became hard towards to end to pick up Pure, knowing how I’d end up feeling when I put it down. This isn’t a novel you can read in one sitting, if only because it is slow and long and the plot doesn’t keep you hooked the whole way through. The moments when Pure managed to surprise me are by far my favorite, but they weren’t often.

One thing I really liked about Pure was the way Baggott treats her readers. She assumes your intelligent enough to pick up on little things, to live in her world beside our protagonists, and because of that the novel moves along at a rapid click. This is a sinister science fiction, made all the more so by the gritty writing Baggott immerses us in through the multi-POVs.

The novel isn’t preachy, but the reader should be warned that there’s lots of long, drawn out conversations between the characters about war and atomic bombs, which I found them mostly boring instead of philosophically eye-opening. Basically, the theme of Pure is that it’s a gorgeously written, stunning science fiction-fantasy that’s too long and drawn out to keep me engaged for the whole novel.

Notable Scene:

Her grandfather taps the floor—shave and a haircut, two bits—with his cane. Pressia isn’t ready to go. She doesn’t want to leave her grandfather. He moves quickly to his chair. He picks up the brick and holds it in one hand.

The woman holds her wound and moves to the window where she peeks out. “OSR,” she whispers, terrified.

Pressia’s grandfather gazes at Pressia, their eyes meeting through the small crack of the cabinet door. His breath is quick, his eyes wide. Lost. He looks lost.

Shot through with fear, Pressia wonders what will happen to him without her. Maybe OSR are coming for someone else, she thinks. Maybe the boy named Arturo or the twin girls who live in the lean-to. Not that she wants it to be the twin girls in the lean-to or Arturo. How can she wish the OSR on someone else?

She can’t move.

Pure Trilogy:

1.  Pure

2. Fuse (February 19, 2013)

FTC Advisory: Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group provided me with a copy of Pure.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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