I received this book courtesy of the publisher from NetGalley.
This book came onto my radar a while ago now. It’s part of my compulsion to seek out and read as much dystopia as possible at the moment. Quite a few of the books that I’ve really enjoyed over the past few months have been dystopias.
Before I went into this I knew that Pure would be coming up against Under the Never Sky. I have a feeling that most of the dystopias that I’ll be reading this year will have to measure up against Veronica Rossi’s debut. But I sure had high hopes for this one.
Series: Pure #1
Author: Julianna Baggott
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Target Audience: YA
Chapters: Unknown – names rather than numbers
PoV: 3rd person
Tense: Present tense
Story: 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.
Thoughts and impressions: First things first, this book was weird! That’s the only way that I can think of to describe it. It’s set in the not too distant future – Pressia’s grandfather mentions that he remembers 3D cinema from his youth so I figured the era to be 50 or so years from now. Eight or nine years before the story starts, detonations took place. Anyone who was not in the protective environment of the Dome found themselves fused to whatever was close by at the time of the bright flashes. For the main characters, this is: Pressia has a doll’s head instead of one of her hands; Bradwell has birds in his back; Pressia’s grandfather has a little hand-held fan stuck in his throat; and El Capitan is fused to his little brother, destined to give him a piggyback ride for the rest of their lives.
The fusings are many and varied – I often felt horrified by the imagery that the descriptions evoked in me… horrified that human beings would do this to other human beings. But of course they would. The author alludes to the fact that such a thing has already taken place in Japan with the dropping of the nuclear bombs. I hadn’t heard of this but then I am led to believe that it was kept quiet, in part due to shame. I’m sure that a little research into the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings will shed more light on this, though.
Back to the story.
Officially, the story is that the US’s enemy set off the detonations but we’re soon introduced to a conspiracy theory that the American elite did this to their own fellow citizens as part of a measure to purify the land. They wanted to create a “New Eden” where those who were safe can emerge and reclaim the land for themselves.
Pressia is a girl on the outside, a wretch, who is closing in on her 16th birthday. All wretches are enlisted in the OSR (Operation Sacred Revolution) when they’re 16 and are either trained to fight against the Dome or used as live bait in this same training. Pressia doesn’t want to join the OSR, though, so she hides until she is forced to flee. While fleeing, she comes across Partridge – a boy from the Dome who is unscarred, a Pure – who has escaped the only word he knows in order to track down his supposedly-dead-but-possibly-alive mother. They join forces, making a few other friends along the way, and together they all slowly unravel the extent of Partridge’s father’s villainy as well as his mother’s secrets. They have to come to terms with a reality very different from the one they had believed in for so long.
Of course, in this quest to uncover truths they come up against many surprising enemies and reluctant allies. I’m not going to even allude to them because I strongly believe that in this case each reader should discover all of these twists and turns for themselves.
For a while I was worried that even though the author had set things in motion for Pressia and Partridge to each have their own romantic interest (Bradwell and Lyda respectively) and neither had displayed even an inkling of romantic interest in the other, she would somehow twist things to bring them together. Most of the books I read do eventually bring the male and female leads together as a couple. But there’s something else going on here and I’m glad that Bradwell gets to keep his role as the boy who makes Pressia’s heart beat faster. I don’t feel so strongly about Lyda but then she had a smaller role in the whole and most of it away from Partridge. Poor El Capitan is a bit like a fifth wheel, though – maybe he’ll get his own leading lady in the sequel! Ok, so obviously I’m a hopeless romantic at heart.
Speaking of the sequel, I’m looking forward to it! The fight promises to become more intense with more on the line now that certain truths are known. It’s definitely on my TBR list already.
Finally, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m going to point out that I did struggle to really get into this book. It took up until about the 20% mark for me to really become involved in events and desperate to find out what would happen next. If, like me, you have some difficulties with the first part of the story, I recommend soldiering on to see whether it picks up for you. In my case, in the end it really was worth it!
Style: The only way I can think of to describe this style is disjointed. It doesn’t really flow smoothly but I felt that it fit the setting perfectly.
Final verdict: I was drawn in, I was repulsed; I was fascinated, I was horrified. This book was so very different from… anything! I really enjoyed it, but I do have to keep in mind that I had to force myself to keep going until certain things clicked into place. Definitely worth the read. 4 stars
Extra notes: Some mild bad language. No sex.