Review: Pure (Pure #1) by Julianna Baggott
Author: Julianna Baggott
Series: Pure #1
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group
Publication Date: February 8, 2012
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. (From Goodreads)
A Rocky Start…
I wasn’t so sure about this book when I first started reading. I had been wanting to read this book for a long time – I put it on my Goodreads To-Read list in May of last year! So I was super excited and went out and bought it on the release date. I didn’t start reading it right away, since I was in the middle of another book, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to read as much as I would have liked for the past week or so, so it took me a while to finish it.
But my first reaction, after reading only the first few pages, was that this was a twisted, gruesome book. I realized that although I really enjoy the post-apocalyptic genre, and I’ve seen plenty of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic movies, I hadn’t really read too many books that were actually set in the time just after an apocalypse. Sure, I’d read dystopians where an apocalypse had happened way in the past, but I’ve only read a couple of books that deal with the immediate after-effects of an apocalypse. (I’ve used the word apocalypse way too much now, and I apologize.) So although this one is really dark and gritty, and I feel the need to warn readers of this, I really can’t compare it to many other books that have a similar setting.
A Heavy Read…
That said, I still want to warn people who might want to pick up Pure: it’s dark. It’s gory. There aren’t really any happy warm fuzzies in any part of the book, except during the (very short) romantic bits. I hate gore. I can’t stand it in movies or on television and I definitely don’t like it in my books. And this is one book that I don’t know if I’d want to see adapted in movie form, simply because of the disturbing images. But even though there are grotesque images in this book (Pressia, one of the main characters, has a doll’s head fused to her hand, and there are other characters that are actually two or more people fused together, among other things), there was only one instance where I thought to myself, “Whoa, this is getting pretty gory.”
But there’s death. There’s suffering. There are deformed children. One part that really got to me was this one scene where there are all these mothers whose children are now fused together with them, and the children can no longer grow. They are just stuck to their mothers for the rest of their lives, forever the age that they were when the Detonations occured. It’s a harsh image for me because I am a mother myself, and I know that I would end up like that, because if I was there when the Detonations hit, I would have held my son as close to me as I possibly could.
I also had a hard time suspending my disbelief at first. How could all these people be fused together with the earth, with inanimate objects, with each other? Luckily there is a type of explanation to this, and I was able to get over it and accept that something like this could happen.
And another thing – for those of you that aren’t too fond of multiple narrators, be warned. There are four different points of view in this novel. I myself don’t have problems with two narrators, and three wasn’t too bad, but when it came to the fourth point of view, I was wondering if every major character was going to get their own chapters. However, I did end up feeling like all of these points of view were justified, and were needed to allow the reader to view these characters as individuals, and to see their humanity and their own personal struggles. Without their own chapters, readers would simply see them through the eyes of the other characters, and wouldn’t see the complexity behind each character.
Beauty in Ugliness…
One of my favorite quotes was from early on in the book in one of Pressia’s chapters:
My rating for Pure by Julianna Baggott: