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Pure (The Pure Trilogy) Hardcover – February 8, 2012

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A Q&A Between Justin Cronin and Julianna Baggott

Justin Cronin is the author of The Passage.

Justin Cronin: As Pure opens up we meet a girl named Pressia, who has a doll-head fused to one hand and a crescent-shaped burn around one eye.  Where did this image and character come from?

Julianna Baggott: The doll-head fist first appeared in a series of strange, otherworldly short stories. At the same time, I wanted to write something really ambitious, large in scope with cinematic world-building. Not thinking of either of these things, I sat down one day and started writing a dreamy stream of consciousness from the perspective of a 16-year-old girl, hiding in an ashen cabinet in the back of a burnt-out barbershop. I then realized that this girl had a doll-head fused to her fist and that the landscape outside of this barbershop was that ambitious cinematic landscape I'd been longing to write. The two things knit together, and Pressia found her true home.

Justin Cronin: Pure presents a dystopian future after the "Detonations."  What is it about post-apocalyptic fiction that attracted you as a writer and strikes a particular chord with readers today?

Julianna Baggott: Pressia is someone who finds small moments of beauty even amid all of the destruction of this post-apocalyptic world. That was one of the challenges--creating a character who's capable of seeing beauty, who's resilient and tough, and still has hope. I think that our world right now feels precarious--economically and politically--and therefore readers might be drawn to fiction that reflects the necessary toughness that so many people are relying on to survive. But, too, readers might be drawn Pure because the teen years can feel post-apocalyptic, and, on that level, Pure reflects a kind of emotional honesty that feels real.  

Justin Cronin: In the world of Pure, who are the Pures and who are the Wretches?

Julianna Baggott: The novel opens with Pressia who has survived the Detonations and is therefore a Wretch. But we also get the perspective of Partridge who's survived the Detonations inside of a protective Dome; he's a Pure. He's always believed that his mother died a saint while trying to save people during the Detonations. When he finds that this might not be true, he escapes the Dome to find her. The two characters' lives are set on a collision course and become entwined in many twisted ways that make this book a thriller.

Justin Cronin: The cover of Pure includes a striking image of a blue butterfly. What does the butterfly symbolize?

Julianna Baggott: The novel will hopefully force readers to think about what it means to be truly pure--pure of heart. The blue butterfly can represent the Pures who, like Partridge, live in the protective Dome, much like the bell jar on the cover. But it can also represent a more personal purity--like that of Pressia and some of the wretches who struggle to live with their dignity and humanity intact. In the second book in the trilogy, the blue butterfly takes on a more literal meaning as well. Also, check out the back cover of the book. There you'll find a mechanical butterfly created by the artist Mike Libby, well known in steampunk circles. The mechanical butterfly exists in Pure as one of Pressia's creations.

Justin Cronin: What can you tell us about what's coming next for Pressia, Bradwell, and Partridge in the next installment, Fuse?

Julianna Baggott: I broaden the ravaged landscape. Some of the characters travel great distances. There are new creatures to contend with, as well as plot twists and turns within the Dome. (I absolutely love the new characters that we meet within the Dome--as well as the development of characters that readers only met briefly in Pure.)  In addition to a new mystery to be unraveled and power struggles, there are two love stories in Fuse that really take hold, go deep, and become much more complex.

Review

"What lifts PURE from the glut of blood-spattered young adult fiction is not the story Baggott tells but the exquisite precision of her prose...discomfiting and unforgettable."―The New York Times Sunday Book Review

"Baggott's highly anticipated postapocalyptic horror novel...is a fascinating mix of stark, oppressive authoritarianism and grotesque anarchy...Baggott mixes brutality, occasional wry humor, and strong dialogue into an exemplar of the subgenre."―Publisher's Weekly (STARRED review)

"A great gorgeous whirlwind of a novel, boundless in its imagination. You will be swept away."―Justin Cronin, New York Times bestselling author of The Passage

"PURE is a dark adventure that is both startling and addictive at once. Pressia Belze is one part manga heroine and one part post-apocalyptic Alice, stranded in a surreal Wonderland where everyone and everything resonates with what has been lost. Breathtaking and frightening. I couldn't stop reading PURE."―Danielle Trussoni, bestselling author of Angelology

"From the first page on, there are no brakes on this book. It's nearly impossible to stop reading as Baggott delves fearlessly into a grotesque and fascinating future populated by strangely endearing victims (and perpetrators) of a wholly unique apocalypse. And trust me, PURE packs one hell of an apocalypse."―Daniel H. Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Robopocalypse

"A boiling and roiling glorious mosh-pit of a book, full of wonderful weirdness, tenderness, and wild suspense. If Katniss could jump out of her own book and pick a great friend, I think she'd find an excellent candidate in Pressia."
Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
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Product Details

  • Series: The Pure Trilogy (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Edition edition (February 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781455503063
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455503063
  • ASIN: 1455503061
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (271 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #515,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Critically acclaimed, bestselling author, Julianna Baggott -- who also writes under the pen names Bridget Asher (The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted) and N.E. Bode (The Anybodies) -- has published 17 books, including novels for adults, younger readers, and collections of poetry. Her latest novel, PURE, is the first of a trilogy; film rights have sold to Fox2000 -- www.pure-book.com. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Best American Poetry, Best Creative Nonfiction, Real Simple, on NPR.org, as well as read on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" and "Here and Now." Her novels have been book-pick selections by People Magazine's summer reading, Washington Post book-of-the-week, a Booksense selection, a Boston Herald Book Club selection, and a Kirkus Best Books of the Year list. Her novels have been published in over 50 overseas editions. She's a professor in the Creative Writing Program at Florida State University and the founder of the nonprofit Kids in Need - Books in Deed. For more, visit www.juliannabaggott.com.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Tamela Mccann TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This one's going to stay with me for a very long time. I already know this because the images from Pure by Julianna Baggott are seared into my mind--wildly disturbing, absorbing, imaginative, freakish. This is a dystopian unlike most others out there, and I'm hooked.

Pure is the story of almost sixteen year old Pressia, who has lived for the nine years since the world ending/changing Detonations with her grandfather in a small barbershop in what's left of America. Those who survived the Detonations were fused to whatever they happened to be touching at the moment the bright light exploded, so Pressia's right hand is now the head of the baby doll she was holding and her grandfather has a small fan stuck in his throat. The two have been foraging for their lives, knowing that when Pressia turns sixteen, the dreaded OSR soldiers will be coming for her (for whatever purpose they deem). It is this knowledge that leads Pressia to Bradwell, a fellow survivor with birds actually living in his back, and ultimately to El Capitan, an OSR officer whose younger brother has fused to him. Meanwhile, there are a select few who have survived unscathed--Pure--in the Dome; Partridge, son of one of the leaders, feels certain his mother survived the Detonations outside the Dome and he becomes determined to find her, even if it means leaving his sanctuary. All of these lives intersect, combine, and impact one another throughout the most vivid landscape and people I've read about in quite a while.

Pure is not without its faults; its present tense writing annoys and the improbability of people fusing to items as varied as animals, metal, plastic, and land kept nagging me. Still, if you put aside the illogic, this is a story whose characters are truly the stars.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Audrey Larson on June 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Pure, by Julianna Baggott, tells the story of two teens and a shattered world. Pressia survives in the ruins of the nuclear bombing; among burned, fused and mutated beings. Partridge is a Pure, living in the controlled and monitored environment inside the protective dome, along with the others that were lucky enough to be shielded from the bombs. Partridge is convinced his mother is alive somewhere in the ashes outside the dome, and he escapes knowing he may never come back. Pressia is hiding; she now has reached the age where the militia, or OSR, must capture her to either be trained or die.

Pure is well written, with lots of attention to detail. The book starts out a bit slow in the beginning but soon grabs your attention and quickens the pace. Flashbacks of everyday moments such as birthdays, barbeques and movie theaters from the "before" (before the bombing) gave me a new perspective on everyday life taken for granted. Pure gave me an appreciation of what I have and the world I live in. I was a little confused as to the location of where Pure is supposed to take place. I don't know if this was a conscious decision by the author, but I was just wondering what was supposed to be happening in other places in the world. Pure is not as action-packed as I would have liked; it has more inner and emotional struggle. Pure has a quiet air to it, like the silent desolate world it takes place in. I thought the characters were well developed and lifelike. Overall, I thought Pure was fresh, unpredictable and compelling. Pure is a book that made me think.

I would recommend this book to boys and girls ages 12 and up. Pure is the first book in a planned trilogy and I look forward to reading the next one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By KellaMin on September 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This should have been a great novel. The premise was very interesting - the fusing of things when the detonations hit was extremely clever. The dome vs. outside had the potential to be great, interesting, etc., but it wasn't. By the time I reached the end of the book, I was flying through the pages just to be able to say that I had finished it. I think what I had the most trouble with were the numerous points of view. When you are dealing with that many different characters I would imagine that it would be difficult to fully develop the characters and that was very apparent in this story. The characters by themselves were interesting, El Capitan with his fused brother for example, but the plot was so scattered that by the time I got to his POV I didn't care. The same with Lyda in the dome - it was interesting by itself, but when set against and with the rest of the book I was confused and quite frankly annoyed with her part. She and Partridge seem to have this connection that was completely undeveloped and way too convenient for the sake of the story. My daughter got halfway through this book and gave it back to me saying she couldn't finish it. She NEVER does that - she finishes all her books. I asked her what the problem was and she couldn't really express it and I guess I feel the same. I really wanted to like this story . . .
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27 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Travis on November 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
I did not enjoy Pure. Almost the entire time I was reading it I kept having a vague feeling that I'd already read this novel. I hadn't, but the ideas are so typical to this type of post-apocalyptic story that I just felt like nothing was new to me. I finally went and googled a book that I'd recalled reading maybe ten years ago and found "The Last Book in the Universe" which is of a similar vein to this story, maybe that is what was tickling my memory.

Spoiler at the bottom for the most messed up thing about this book.

Anyway, the story itself could be great because the "fuse" thing really is interesting. I feel the need to mention that one of the other reviewers on here says something about "What if the birds fused to the boy's back die?" But the author reveals pretty early on that all the animals fused to people will live until that person dies and vice versa, it will kill the people to cut those creatures off. I say 'could be great' because the pace kills this story. 479 pages later and you've made no real leap into the story at all. A few things happen that you've guessed will happen since about page 30, so that is nice. No real surprises in the story though, even the small twists and turns that come unexpectedly still give ample warning before anything actually happens with them. The reason why nothing happens? Because on this Amazon page it clearly states that this is part of Trilogy not yet written. I bought this as a paperback off the shelf at the local book store and nowhere on the back, front, or lead in pages to the first chapter does it say ANYTHING about this not being a standalone novel. There is no clue whatsoever that you aren't actually getting a full story.
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