Pure by Julianna Baggott (Link to Goodreads)
Released: February 8th, 2012
Bought the hardcover after keeping library copy overdue for weeks!
Description on Goodreads:
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.
Originally, I had borrowed this book from the library, but it sat on my bed side table for 2 months. Overdue fees got higher and higher, and I finally had to relinquish the book back. I then decided to just buy the darn thing, but it then too sat on my bookshelf for months. I finally picked it back up yesterday and FINISHED IT. One of the things I don't want anyone to think is that since it took me so long to finish is that it was hard to get through. Yes, it was hard to get through, but because it has so much going for it.
Onto the review!
Julianna Baggott knows how to build a world. Apocalyptic, but also seemingly realistic because as you learn throughout the novel that it could easily happen if things got out of hand and the wrong people were given the right weapons. Pure's world is scary and frightening, while also bringing sadness into the mix. Each character is put through numerous situations that should have crippled them mentally and physically, but they continued to push on. It almost makes me feel guilty for any complaining I do, as these characters endure so much more than the average human should have to.
We're introduced to a world after a global explosion. People were fused with the items they were with at the moment of impact, few surviving while many wish they didn't. The first of few main characters we meet is Pressia Belze. A young girl living with her grandfather in a destroyed barber shop. She happens to have a dolls head fused to her arm, instead of a hand. This is the first real introduction to how strange these "fused" characters are. Some are beyond imaginable, and some are truly heartbreaking. The detonation, as the characters call it, hit people of all ages. Pressia was young when it happened, whereas her grandfather was older. Each character, depending on their age, remembers different things pertaining to how long they lived before the detonation and how long they lived after. Pressia is more a product of the destruction after the detonation. One of the most interesting aspects of this book was learning about the pasts and history of all the characters and how they became fused with one thing or another. Bradwell, the romantic interest of Pressia, has three birds fused to his back, still alive and now completely apart of who he is. Pressia's grandfather, a mortician in his earlier life before the detonation, survives with a wheezing fan lodged in his throat. El Capitan, a soldier she meets along her journey, happens to carry around a very heavy burden. His brother, Helmund, is fused to his back, no longer able to survive with his brothers help. All these characters deal with their fusion differently, and it shows a unique way of what we all carry within ourselves, our problems, fears, hopes, and wishes.
On the other side of the story, you have the Pures. These were the people who were either smart enough or rich enough to secure passage in a safety dome when the detonation went off. They created an inside environment as advanced as the outside world was destitute. Each side knew of the other, but feared the worst. It is only until Patridge Willux, son of the leader of the Pure's, decides to escape to look for clues about his mother's disappearance. What unravels is a very confusing, twisted, and awful account of what happens when a can of worms is opened.
Baggott also knows her way around plot. I can't tell you how many times I read a passage and had to put the book down and think about how it made an earlier passage much clearer. Each chapter was through a different characters perspective, but Baggott still left a lot out to keep the mystery going. When I say there are a lot of things going on in this story, I MEAN IT. There are things I can't even mention in this review for the shock of it while reading is what keeps you going. What was also fantastic about this book is the minor characters. Each character that had to do with the plot was developed and interesting and had their own motives and I think it's important for each character to have their own story and motivation. Sometimes, a minor character is a place setting or an excuse to fill space or for someone to speak a line that is crucial to the story. But for Baggott to integrate each character into this plot full of mystery and suspense, I congratulate her.
I recommend this book to those who want to be stumped and don't want all the answers right away. I was frustrated and confused and enthralled, and highly satisfied with this book. Am I happy I have to wait 4 months until the next book comes out? No. But I am happy that it does have a sequel coming out soon, and I will definitely be buying it the day it comes out and working to find the answers to my unsolved questions. But knowing Baggott's style of writing, she might make us wait until the end of book 3 to allow us to fully wrap our brains around the wonderful world of Pure.