Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Pure, by Julianna Baggot- Review
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.
I've said it so many times in the past year, but it bears repeating, the BEA did something magical to my bookshelves. I'm not sure if it's the atmosphere at the show, or simply the freedom to be less picky since the books are free, but somehow I walked away with loads of books I likely wouldn't have picked up at a bookstore. Almost everyone of them has been amazing, but also a total breath of fresh air and Pure was one of those refreshing books.
With a huge marketing push on the floor, I must have passed piles of Pure everyday, including flashy info on the series titles and release dates -this was a well publicised hot new read (and super-duper in advance). It was a massive book (I was always thinking about my luggage), and billed as dystopian adult. I was intrigued but hesitant, and I passed it by a few times before I took the plunge and grabbed a copy.
Then as it rolled closer to it's February release date, the Internet buzz started up and I remember it was languishing in my enormous TBR pile and decided to give it a go. From almost the first words I was riveted in a way that only the best dystopians can achieve. By this I mean, Baggott captures the human element immediately, while slowly delving into her mysterious dystopian landscape but without ever letting it take over the story as they are often want to do. Pressia and Partridge are not only characters you feel deeply attached too, but also characters who feel completely real and honest despite their very unusual world and experiences.
A well executed dystopian is a rare thing. It has to perfectly balance often bizarre dystopian worlds and world building against character driven stories. If done well then the world is a fascinating part of the whole, but doesn't overwhelm the nuancing of the relationships within it, while still driving the plot with some sort of threat or tension. So it stands to reason that a lot of the dystopians out there right now are a little flat, but it also makes a beautifully executed one, like Pure, a gem of a find. Hence the thrill of dystopians for me, since I first read The Hunger Games, it's a bit of Russian Roulette but well worth the pay off when you find the good ones.
The outside of the Dome world, full of fused people and even stranger fused monsters, is equal parts enthralling and horrifying. The myriad ways in which Baggot finds to complicate the fuses, people with inanimate objects, people with animals, people with other people and all the horrors and complications they present is an intriguing Dystopian twist, as it's firmly a world building element, but also deeply character defining. How a person has been fused has deep ramifications on who they've become since, and how they live. Meaning also, that it creates this intriguing segregation between the Pure's and the Fused which is so much more than just physical or emotional. It was this element, more than any of her other world building aspects that I was completely enamoured of, and for me, coupled with the wonderful characters and relationships sold this story to me.
Of course there's a fascinating mystery brewing as well, and I can hardly wait to get my hands on Fused when it comes out winter 2013. One final word, the leads are all teens in Pure, and if I read it without knowing how it was classified I would have thought it was YA, so it would definitely appeal to YA readers.
Pure, by Julianna Baggot
Published by Grand Central Publishing, February 2012
My copy acquired at the BEA
Read the first 7 pages of Pure
Buy Pure on Amazon