Book Review: Pure by Julianna Baggott

Title: Pure
Author: Julianna Baggott
Genre: YA dystopian fiction, science fiction
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: Pressia is lying in the cabinet.

Goodreads blurb: 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.

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.

I have read a lot of YA dystopian fiction – though nowhere near the amount that some bloggers have – and the post-apocalyptic world of Pure is the most terrifying setting of all. The Wretches, those outside the Dome, may have survived the Detonations, but their lives are one horror after another. They are the walking wounded, scarred, missing limbs. And many of them are fused with whatever they were holding or standing near when the Detonations occurred. Pressia was a little girl at the time, and she was holding her baby doll.

The terrors of the world the Wretches inhabit is made even more devastating in contrast to how the Pures live in the Dome. The Pures were the rich, the educated, those who could afford a place to hide when the Detonations occurred. They are supposedly waiting for the world outside the Dome to be ready for them to join the Wretches and rebuild civilization.

Pressia the Wretch meets Partridge the Pure, and they discover they both hold pieces to a connected past. They also discover that the Detonations may not have occurred for the reasons they had been told – and Partridge’s father, leader of the Dome, is at the heart of the corruption.

Pure is a bleak book, and the stark despair of the world might make it too horrible to read, but the strength of the characters keeps it from being utterly dark. Pressia, and her love for her grandfather. Bradwell, with the birds fused into his back, a reluctant hero. Partridge, seeking to understand why he is so different from his father and older brother. El Capitan, who starts out as a soldier of fortune, and yet is drawn into helping Pressia and Partridge. Their histories, their stories, their hope – that is what fuels this book and makes it well worth reading.

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22 Responses to Book Review: Pure by Julianna Baggott

  1. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads
    says:

    I have this on audio and plan to listen to it soon.

  2. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion
    says:

    I don’t read much dystopia so when I do, I want it to be exceptional. I’ll have to think about this one.

  3. How interesting! I generally don’t seek out books like this but I do enjoy them when I read them. For some reason, I like the darker ones best. Thank you for bringing this one to my attention, Carrie!

  4. I really enjoyed this one and am very curious to see how she progresses the story.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Amy – I read the plot blurb for Fuse (book 2) on Goodreads, and it sounds good – can’t wait!

  5. Anna says:

    Glad to see you enjoyed this one, as my husband is reading it now. I might have to give it a go once he’s finished.

  6. Heather
    Twitter: BookAddictHeath
    says:

    I just finished this one on Sunday! I liked it a lot too, and I agree with you that it’s the strength of the characters that makes it great. The setting and plot certainly is bleak, with one bad thing happening after another, but I think this series could go to an incredibly interesting place. We’ll see!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Heather – I just wish when I found a new series, that I could automatically have all the books right now! lol

  7. Marg
    Twitter: MargReads
    says:

    I had this one from Netgalley but just didn’t get to it, which I am really disappointed by. I need to go and buy it I think.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Marg – you should definitely get your hands on a copy soon!

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  9. Melissa
    Twitter: myeclecticbooks
    says:

    This was definitely the most horrifying book that I have read in a long time! Too bad we have to wait until 2013 for book 2!

  10. Kailana says:

    I have this book on hold at the library. I am just waiting my turn!

  11. Kathleen says:

    I think this is one of the most horrifying images of the future that I’ve heard of in a Dystopian novel. I agree that if the characters are strong and likable it is easier to get through the tough read of a bleak setting. I’m intrigued by this one.

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