Pure by Julianna Baggott

Posted On 24 February 2012

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Just finished reading Pure by Julianna Baggott.

Pure is a strange, dark and original blend of post apocalyptic and dystopian.  It’s set in a world where detonations have taken place and the world has been reduced to rubble, except for the Dome – which was protected from the blast.  This is a world of contrasts.  The haves and have nots, the vulnerable and the protected, the wretches and the pures and very much the rights and the wrongs.  When the detonations took place a number of people had managed to reach the safety of the Dome – these people are known as Pures because they remain intact, perfect and unblemished.  The people on the outside of the Dome either died instantaneously or survived but not in their original condition.  They became fused to objects, people, animals or each other.  Some are barely recognisable, turned into monsters.  It’s a harsh and unrecognisable landscape, littered with remnants of the former world, jagged remains of buildings and ash filled air.  A lot of the people have lost their humanity in the fight to survive and many have turned bitter eyes towards the Dome and would like nothing more than to take some revenge.  On top of the fight to survive in this harsh landscape the survivors are ‘policed’ by the OSR who basically terrorise them and take all the children who reach the age of 16 – for what purpose there is no clear explanation.

You could be forgiven for thinking the inhabitants of the Dome are living a peachy life, they escaped the horrors of the blast after all.  However, they are ruled by a dictator and fed false information, their young men are taken for elite training and adapted into strange new beings, the women are treated in a strange, almost old fashioned way and opinionated females seem to be taken into a mental institution for correction.  In spite of this, few of them would want to leave the protection of the dome.  All except one that is.

The story is told from a number of points of views, the main characters being Pressia, a wretch, scarred and with a doll’s head fused to her in place of her hand, and Partride, the son of the most important man within the Dome, perfect unscarred skin, all digits intact, full head of hair, pristine.  The two of them will come together, thrown together through necessity and struggling to survive and accomplish the mission Partridge has broken out of the Dome for.

I won’t go any further into the plot in order to avoid spoilers but will say there are a number of twists and turns and Julianna doesn’t take prisoners.

I really enjoyed this book.  It was a little slow to get into at first but once it works it’s magic it’s virtually unputdownable.  It’s so utterly strange and unique.  Some of the ideas that the author has come up with are bizarre and fascinating – the Groupies, the Mothers,  the Dusts – horrible, creepy and totally compelling to read about.  I thought the world building was excellent and the characters really well drawn.  I particularly liked some of the secondary characters such as Bradwell.

We also get to take a long hard look into human nature.  In a disaster situation it appears the old adage ‘survival of the fittest’ takes on a whole new significance.  We see the cruel and spiteful who seem to flourish in this type of environment, picking on the weak and vulnerable, we see the manipulators using others for their own ends and we see the results of an obsessed mind driven to drastic measures by it’s own search for perfection.

In terms of criticisms I don’t really have anything major although a little more information in certain respects would have been a plus – not sure where exactly this takes place in America.  Did the detonations take place all over the world.  Just a bit more background although that might be forthcoming in the next two novels.  Also, I found some elements of the plot a little bit predictable – although I didn’t particularly find that irritating as this isn’t supposed to be a thriller.

I think this book is aimed at older YA but I feel it will appeal to an older market.  I don’t suppose it will appeal to everyone given the bleak landscape.  It’s not particularly bubbly or cheerful after all but even with that I did find it had a feeling of hope running through and I thought the story telling was excellent.  I would definitely recommend and I look forward to reading the next.





4 Responses to “Pure by Julianna Baggott”

  1. christiangmill

    This books sounds very interesting! I really dig the whole survival of the fittest thing lately and have been reading a lot about it. Pressia sounds terrifying by the way lol.

    • lynnsbooks

      Would make a good film I think – if a little dark.
      Lynn 😀

      • christiangmill

        Heh indeed! I think anyway…as I have not read it yet 🙂 but I shall take your word for it.

  2. TBM

    Haven’t heard of this one, but sounds interesting.

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