YA Friday: Pure by Julianna Baggott

Friday, February 24, 2012

Title: Pure
Author: Julianna Baggott
Series: Pure #1
Genre: YA, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, science fiction
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, 2012
Source: NetGalley
Read for: Review

Years ago, the Detonations restructured the face of the world. Most died, and those who didn't were changed forever; fused to the objects they were holding when the Detonations occurred. Everyone, that is, except the people in the Dome, who sent them a message saying that some day they would come out and help them. The people of the world have held to that hope, but as food gets harder and harder to find and the ramshackle government outside the Dome gets more and more power-hungry, the world seems as if it is going to fly apart. Pressia Belze is trying to escape from her obligation to join the OSR now that she is sixteen. Partridge Willux is trying to escape from the Dome once he finds out that he has been lied to most of his life. Together, Pressia and Partridge make a shocking discovery that could change the lives of everyone in both their worlds.

I should mention that this book isn't officially considered to be YA. The protagonists are in their teens, but this book is written in a slightly more mature style and deals with some disturbing concepts. I'm classifying it as YA because most of the people I know of who have read it are YA readers. Okay, end disclaimer.

I had mixed reactions to Pure. For a long time, I found the book difficult to become involved with. For one thing, it is grotesque. The mutations that affect everyone outside the Dome are disturbing, the substance of nightmares, and while it is definitely interesting to read about them, it isn't necessarily enjoyable. I was also somewhat bothered by the fact that some of those mutations weren't scientifically sound. Some of them were; objects being fused to people's limbs, for example, and maybe people becoming fused together. However, I have my doubts about people becoming fused with machines and functioning as part of the machines, as well as the people that became fused to rocks and animals. Maybe it was possible, but it was pretty difficult for me to suspend my disbelief.

The book is also very long, taking many chapters before any action begins to take place. I understand that it was important to build the world -- it is a unique world with many different features. However, my attention lagged for the first two-thirds of the book.

Fortunately, once things started happening, I was immediately more invested in the book. There is a tangle of complicated relationships and mysteries and I was fascinated to see how they all unraveled. The unexpected twists were perfectly constructed, weaving effortlessly into the world Baggott spent so many pages introducing at the beginning of the book. At first grudgingly, I found myself really enjoying the story by the end, and I was moved by the fight for life and freedom displayed by the characters.

There is also a subtle beauty hovering around the ashes and the grotesque mutations of the book. Despite her malformed hand, Pressia creates beautiful mechanical butterflies and trades them for food. Despite the ugly secrets in Partridge's past, it is revealed to him in a fairytale. And despite the pressure to survive and take what you can get, a beautiful relationship develops that isn't the central focus of the book, but that is sweet and touching.

So, will I continue in this series? I think I might give the second book a chance. While Pure wasn't my favorite book, it certainly shows promise, and I am curious to know what will happen to the characters in the next installment.

3.25 stars

Warnings: Violence, talk of an affair


  1. I've heard way too many people complain about this one. I have to admit it still sounds interesting if maybe a bit too long.

    1. It was definitely a very unique book from others I've read, but it did drag. I think it is worth a try if you are able to abandon books that don't work for you; I know people that love it and people that hate it.

  2. Fantastic, honest and thoughtful review! I have heard mixed reviews for this one, it's a shame you didn't enjoy it more. I'm a bit wary of this one - I'm not sure I'll like it, but I may give it a go. :)

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    1. I think it is worth a try. It is certainly unique, and I was glad I held out for the end because the last scenes were pretty powerful.

  3. Thanks for your review. I was part of an ARC tour for this book and ended up giving up on it after maybe 50-75 pages. I thought I would really like it, but I agree about it being kind of grotesque. And really dark. I'm glad it at least picked up near the end for you.

    1. It was much better once the shock of everyone's fusions wore off and the plot became more focused on the plot, not what everyone looked like.

  4. Oh my gracious I ate this book up. Like, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I read it three times before it was released. But interestingly, I totally agree with what you say too. It was horrifying and bleak and yes, grotesque - and yet I couldn't turn away. BUT, I am a fan of these types of apocalyptic tales. I love a good Cormac McCarthy and Justin Cronin - books like those. So it seemed natural for me to literally bond with this one and these characters so much. I loved it, thought it was brilliantly written.

    1. I remember that you loved it -- this is another one I got from NetGalley at your recommendations. And can I just say that I am so amazed that you read it three times? That's awesome. I like the apocalyptic tales, too, but I need a buffer between them. They are kind of scintillating because they are so shocking and dark but too much makes me feel kind of dark myself.


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