Book: Pure by Julianna Baggot
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing Feb, 2012
Genre: Dystopian YA
Source + Date Read: Purchased + Finished April 2012
Recommend: For Dystopian YA lovers.
Book Pro’s: Author able to make the grotesque seem beautiful.
Book Con’s: Pace is a bit fast, and then too slow at times. No desire to read other books in trilogy
Favourite Line: “Burn a Pure, breathe the ash”.
As a lover of pseudo-dark imagery, Pure’s cover greatly appeals to me. The lone, solitary colorful butterfly awash in a muddy, bleak black background. What is the background? Isn’t a burnt world? Skin? Why does the butterfly land on it? Before even reading the synopsis of this book I was convinced that I needed to read it by its cover alone. Good goin‘ Grand Central Publishing.
Pure takes place in a post-apocalyptic world that was destroyed by the Detonations. The perfect period where people were whole and ice cream existed is known simply as the Before. The Dome, the sanctuary where Pure (whole) people live, is seen as a beacon of hope, a new pseudo-God that will bring the wretches (unPure or wretch) to a new, safer world. Food, water and survival is scarce outside of the Dome. People have things, people and animals fused to them as a result of the Detonations and no one seems quite sane because of it. We see Dusts (earth fused individuals, who lost more of their humanity than they can realize, cannibals as well. Charming eh?), Beasts (animal fused people, cannibals as well) and Groupies (groups of people fused together, gulp) in Baggott’s world, as well as regular people with dolls, computers and razors fused to their skin. They’re the lucky ones.
There are a few protagonists in Pure,anwe get to know each of them quite well. Pressia, a 16-year-old wretch has a doll’s head artfully fused to her hand. Her disfigurement is hardly as grotesque as some of the Beasts, Dusts and Groupies that we see throughout the book. Pressia has some serious issues, however, and lives in a partial dream world where the Before and Dome are perfect, beautiful and whole beacons of hope. She is the complete opposite to Bradwell, another wretch, who is a strong-willed orphan hell bent against the Dome and their ‘benevolence’. His anger is akin to a freedom fighter making a stand against communism. Then we meet Partridge, the Pure who lives safely inside the Dome. He dreams of real air and wind, food that isn’t consumed through a pill and his the ideal family. Despite his intact skin, his emotions are cracked and he seems a great deal more unstable than the wretches outside of the Dome. Foreshadowing anyone?
“We know you are here, our brothers and sisters. We will, one day, emerge from the Dome to join you in peace. For now, we watch from afar.”
Pure begins with a story, a time right after the detonations when people still scrambled for sanity and strength. We see Pressia, running, her dolls-head hand swaying in the wind as a man, presumed to befamily, runs after her, clutches her. The sky is littered with papers strewn from the Dome. They’re watching Brothers and Sisters, they’re watching safely behind their cushioned prison. And the outsiders, the wretches, will wait for those in the Dome to join in peace, later.
The novel quickly picks up to a 16 year old Pressia as she goes on her daily work and tries to avoid the local militia, who pick up new 16 year olds and either train them to be ruthless mercenaries, or become the live-target practice for the recruits. The book really picks up as Pressia goes on a series of adventures and plots as she runs from the militia, eventually running into Bradwell who changes her world.
Like a typical adventure plot Dystopian genre, it is when Pressia meets Partridge that her world becomes topsy turvy. It swiftly escalates into a quick climax and some serious plot shockers (we found them shocking, we really didn’t expect or guess that some of these things would happen) with an ambivalent end. The good guys have neither won nor lost, they have just added more enemies to their list and some minor notches on their belts.
This is our biggest gripe with Pure, though it is first in the trilogy, we have no desire to read the second or third installations. Why? Because like a typical adventure Dystopian, they will ultimately win, the wretches will rise up, the world will begin anew and slowly, the scars will fade. We’re sure there will be some fancy dialogue, great quotes and serious plot twisters along the way, but really, it will have the same ending we’re sure.
Pure’s strength is the grotesque nature of Baggot’s imagination. This world is completely unlike our own, it is almost, unfathomable, and yet here it is in-front of us. It is beautiful in a haunting sort of way, because it speaks on an unknown, terrifying future and the cruelty of humanity. Certain themes are pertinent for the present day, what are the limits of science? What are the ethics of technology and advancement? And most eerily of all, who wields this power? Will they help humanity or destroy it? Like the atomic bomb, which was unfathomable but quickly a reality, Pure could be our future. Or it could be not. In this sense, it is a cautionary tale.
It also shows the resilience of humanity, we will not disappear. We’re too darn stubborn.
I’d recommend Pure for those who want a simple and entertaining Dystopian read. If you’re looking for amazing literature that will blow your mind and put stars in your hearts, eyes or loins, it would be best to stay away.
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