Pure by Julianna Baggott

Posted January 20, 2012 by Kara in Uncategorized / 4 Comments

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: February 8th, 2012
Pages: 448
Genre: Dystopian, Adult Crossover
Source: NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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 want to start from the beginning. I kind of fell in love with this book from the start. The writing immediately blew me away. It flowed and really painted a picture. I wanted to copy down quotes from almost every page, but I couldn’t because some of them were rather spoilery. But I did write down my favorite.
“This is it,” she says.

  “This is what?” Partridge asks.

  She leads him around a pile of rubble to a wide metal black door. “Bradwell’s place,” she whispers. “I should warn you that he’s fused.”

  “In what way?”

  “Birds,” she says.


  “In his back.”
A lot of the passages were that way. Beautifully written but subtle. And that’s my favorite thing about Pure. The other thing I loved about this book was the world-building. I was fascinated by the gritty, dystopian, post-apocalyptic world that the author created. Genetic coding, scary creatures that have sprung up from the aftermath of the bombs, and people that are fused to the last object or person they were holding when the bomb went off. In the case of the main character, this is a doll’s head. Fused to her hand. And then there is a boy with birds fused to his back. That are still alive. There are women fused to their children. It’s very creepy. It’s slightly disturbing. And I found it fascinating. There is also the dome, but honestly I found this the least interesting part of the story. See, there are so many books out there that have domes in them. But whatever. The world-building was something I could continue to write about for hours.
I appreciated the characters in Pure. The characterizations were unique and well-developed, but somehow that wasn’t enough for me. I can’t pinpoint what went wrong, but even though I found them interesting, I didn’t find myself really caring all that much. And I totally am saying that may just be me. I am sure that other readers would feel differently, but it didn’t completely work for me. I can honestly say that I lacked an emotional connection to the characters. 
Moving on to the pacing. I have since found out that this will not actually be marketed as a YA novel (crossover), but even so, I still found it very slow. There was hardly any action, and not a whole hell of a lot happened. I mean to say, things happened, but it never really felt like anything was happening. Most of the book fell on one note for me. I was never emotionally invested. There were a few times where I was a bit angry, but there wasn’t a lot of suspense. I never felt that adrenaline rush. Maybe that’s what the author was aiming for, but it’s not what I expected from this book. It was also a bit too long at 448 pages.
I have seen this book marketed as the next Hunger Games. Yeah…no. Not even close. I don’t like when books are compared to begin with (sometimes it can’t be helped), but this book was no Hunger Games. The Hunger Games was filled with suspense and action scenes and all sorts of drama. This was just a totally different book. The author herself mentioned the Hunger Games in correlation to her book. This is her quote, not mine:
“All novels come from the singular mind of the author – the accumulation of a life and the dark finery of the subconscious. But sometimes a novel comes along that makes this statement seem truer – Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale, Cronin’s The Passage, Collins’ Hunger Games. PURE feels like the convergence of my most radical impulses.”
I will let you take that quote in any way you wish, as did I. Comparing your book to one as successful as The Hunger Games may be a bit of an overreach. I just wanted to include it here because I felt it needed to be said that comparing one novel to another rarely, if ever, works. Own your work and be proud of what you did without comparing it to another great novel. 
So, to summarize for those that don’t like to read a lengthy review:
The Good:
~Gorgeous writing
~Phenomenal world-building
~Gritty setting
~Unique characters with unique voices
The Bad:
~Lack of an emotional connection
~Slow pacing
~Too long
To pre-order Pure from Amazon.com, click here: Pure

4 responses to “Pure by Julianna Baggott

  1. Amy

    I got this from Netgalley and still have to read it, but it sounds good. A bit long, but that’s okay. Sounds like it was a great book. Wonderful review.

  2. Thank you both for commenting. It is a great book. It’s just not like the other dystopians I am used to reading. It’s not all action, action action, death, suspense, OMG, drama. It’s much more subtle than that. For some people I think that will be a great thing. I really enjoyed it, I just wasn’t expecting that. And maybe I can help prepare a few other people going into reading it so they won’t be let down at all.

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