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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pure by Julianna Baggott

This book came across my radar when it won a youth media award: the Alex Award.  This award is given annually to ten novels written for an adult audience that have teen appeal.  And wowsa- I can totally tell that this book is chock full of teen (and adult) appeal!

The main character, Pressia, is herself teenaged.  She lives with her grandfather outside the Dome, and is physically disfigured.  Years before, the worst possible scenario happened, and nuclear bombs went off across the globe.  Thousands of "chosen ones" were selected by the government to enter the Dome, an airtight structure over a city-sized complex.  Everyone is the Dome is "Pure," having escaped the blasts.  Everyone outside the Dome is now Fused.  Any item near the person at the time of the blast became fused to them; part of them.  So our main character Pressia has a plastic doll head fused over the place of her left fist.  Creeped out yet?  It gets better:  the doll's eyes blink open and shut every time she raises and lowers her fist.  Some have it worse:  another character, Bradwell, has live birds fused into his back.  And just to round out the rotten life, Pressia and Bradwell have just reached an age where the government, from safe inside their Dome, decides if they're strong enough to be trained for the military or so weak as to be used as live targets for aforementioned military training.

Pure may not be for the faint of heart, but it is so very worth sticking with.  The writing is superb.  I love love love my precious books, and this book tempted me to highlight!  The language is just so rich and dense.  There isn't a single word wasted, and you'll find yourself relishing every quote.  Baggott does a fantastic job really making the reader feel the grit and grime and dirtiness of the setting.

She also does a great job making multiple viewpoints work.  We hear mostly from Pressia, so I consider her the main character, but we also hear from Bradwell, Partridge (a Pure), and a member of the elite military force.  Even Fused, Pressia is living her own "normal."  Because of the additional viewpoints, we also get to see how she and other Fuseds are viewed by healthy, whole Pures.  The multiple viewpoints also lead to a lot more "gray area" thinking than you would otherwise assume.  Like, from earlier in my review you'd assume that all the Dome people are bad and all the Fused are good, right?  Wrong.  Turns out there's a lot of ambiguity.   Each character makes their own decisions for their own reasons.

The author doesn't shy away from some pretty graphic descriptions, so even though many central characters are teens, I would not recommend this for younger teens.  Maybe 16 or 17+.  It's length may also intimidate some.  Think more Stephen King-length than airport chapbook-length.

This is the only adult dystopian I've read, but I'd definitely pick up another.  I was hooked from the first chapter!



Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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2 People left their mark' :

  1. Hi Marie, great review! You had me at "Pure may not be for the faint of heart, but it is so very worth sticking with. The writing is superb." :) I'm adding it to my TBR list. :)

  2. I definitely need to read this, as I love a richly detailed and thought out dystopia world. Though, those birds fused on his back - no no no. I can't picture it because it makes my flesh crawl. *shudders* Other than that, I really want to read this book. Great review!