Pure Paperback – September 4, 2012
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"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
"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
"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...Breathtaking and frightening. I couldn't stop reading PURE."―Danielle Trussoni, bestselling author of Angelology
"PURE is not just the most extraordinary coming-of-age novel I've ever read, it is also a beautiful and savage metaphorical assessment of how all of us live in this present age. This is an important book."―Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
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
About the Author
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There's an untouched caste, of course - the titular Pures, who were hidden away in self-contained Domes during the nuclear war. The Dome is a far more typical dystopian society, but thankfully the majority of the novel is taking place outside.
The novel isn't a quick, easy read. There's a lot of information about the world, about the history and science behind it, that is given. Maybe a little too much? I feel like it could have been edited down some - one of the characters in particular is fond of giving these long speeches about the truth behind the nuclear blast and the science and politics of it. While the other characters react in believable fashion to him (often writing him off as preachy or judgmental of anyone who doesn't think the same or know as much), I feel a similar effect could have been given while making it a little easier on the reader.
Apart from the world building, the other standout feature of Pure is the characters. We swap third person point of view between five main narrators. To my great surprise, I liked all of them. I found even the characters whose POVs appear later in the book very interesting and complex, when most authors would be resting on more cliche motivations and personalities for their 'secondary' characters. Lyda, for example, comes across as having a great internal strength, where a lesser author could have simply made her a reactive pawn, rather than someone who could earn my respect. The main male protagonist, Partridge, could be quite whiny in the early half of the book, but always had moments of strength-of-character to counter that, keeping me from writing him off. In fact, all the characters had their weak moments - not weakly written, but proper flaws and times when they gave in to the easier option of complaining or not being as proactive or brave as they could be. It made them much more realistic.
Overall, the novel could have been condensed slightly. It is that (and the large amount of history/science information given) that keeps me from giving Pure a full five stars. I highly recommend this novel. It's a truly original and confronting novel in a sea of YA dystopian novels.
Pressia is a survivor of a nuclear holocaust. Survivors in this world have been fused to objects that were either close to them at the time of the blasts or airborne, making for some interesting fusions of people and both live and inanimate objects. Pressia is fused to the doll she was holding, as she was a child at the time of the blasts. She is now sixteen and is dreading being taken by the police force that may or may not work for the Dome, an environment built to save people from disasters and preserve humanity.
Partridge is a privileged child of the Dome, but the safety and secrecy and rigidity of life in a society that is essentially waiting to live again grates. Partridge's mother was outside the Dome, trying to get people to the safety of the Dome is the official story, when the blast came and Partridge gets hints that his mother may in fact be alive and that his father and the other leaders of the Dome may be hiding more than Partridge ever dreamed. Thus Partridge comes to escape the Dome and meet Pressia.
The thing that sets Baggott apart in this crowded genre is first and foremost her writing and her ability to take a conceit, the fusions, that could have been either gross or silly and make it believable. Baggott's writing is both poetic and flowing, combining the best of lyrical and readable. The writing is also aimed at a level higher than the usual YA pulp prose and even though the characters are young people I would classify this as an adult novel for that reason.
Pure is the opening salvo in the ever present trilogy and Baggott takes her time setting up her world and her characters, however the novel does stand alone and the reader isn't left hanging off the side of a cliff. I love series and linked novels and serials, but I hate the current trope that leaves the reader unsatisfied at the end of a book. Linked and serial novels must both stand alone and be part of the larger arc and Pure does this.
My one criticism is character development. The writing is beautiful the world is interesting and rises above the usual genre cliches, but the characters are fairly standard. That said, I just received Fuse and believe that Baggott will deepen her characters, her story and her world in the second novel. I believe that the Pure trilogy will buck the usual trend of the first novel being the best and improve with subsequent entries. Baggott is a writer well worth reading and her entree into the post-apocalyptic genre is haunting.
Top international reviews
It is this grizzly world on the outside that is captured so well that captivates: people have become fused with objects (one of the main characters, Pressia has a doll head fused over her hand). This new world becomes more horrific with people fused to animals, to the earth and to one another. It’s the fantastic world-building that keeps you reading and is its greatest strength.
On the downside, I found that telling the story from so many viewpoints weakened the story and I wanted to get back to the MCs Pressia and Partridge. Another issue was that I felt that there was a lot of backstory interjected about how the world used to be, which slowed down the pace and to my mind was unnecessary at certain times. Okay, last annoyance I’m going to mention is that the threat/antagonist (I’m not going to ruin it by saying what it is) becomes all too knowing and far-reaching. I felt the antagonist cheapened itself and the whole story because of this.
I want to say lastly that I found the way Pressia was schooled by her grandfather in how it was in the past very touching. There’s a lovely poignancy built up in some of the contrasts to the present with what used to be. For instance OSR, who control and govern the people outside the dome take part in death sprees now and then, killing those they hunt down. The sound of this deadly game conjures up this thought in Pressia:
“Her grandfather refers to the different chants as bird calls, each one supposedly distinctive.”
A good read on account of the unique and fascinating world building.
Outside the Dome, the "wretches" were told they would be helped, eventually, but 10 years have passed, and no help has come, they live in fear of a brutal regime, but the regime within the safe, clean Dome is no less sinister.
Pure is another young adult dystopian novel, in the vein of the Hunger Games or Chaos Walking trilogies by Suzanne Collins and Patrick Ness respectively, the theme like those novels is of earnest, persistent strong young people fighting an unjust system. It also has shades of Justin Cronin's The Passage in its tone and delivery.
The imagery is inventive and arresting, original in its choices, particularly with the variety of fusions on display. Deliberate parallels are drawn to the real life events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a brave new world imagined from a global scale similar disaster. There are some holes in the plot, and unanswered questions, mainly unbelievable coincidences, lucky escapes that wouldn't occur and bizarre failure to properly act on extensive surveillance, but it is by no means a fishnet.
It has the obligatory teen romance, which for both couples really feels a little weak and there by force, as though the publisher requested it to line it up with the current trend, and sometimes the dialogue is a bit Famous Five, they all seem to know rather a lot for, on the one hand, 2 kids with little education, and on the other, a kid with a heavily censored one. Bradwell particularly being ridiculously knowing about pre Dome history and politics for someone orphaned at the age of 9.
That said the book as an opener to a new young adult dystopia trilogy or quartet was good, I did enjoy it, and will probably read the follow up as it comes out, if the other books I mention in this review appealed to you, this book will too 8/10
The action is set after 'The Detonation' which we learn fairly early was a massive, possibly worldwide, nuclear meltdown and our characters are living in the post-nuclear world.
The lucky ones, Partride and Lyda, grew up in the Dome which is the sheltered, air-filtered, pill-eating, indoctrinated world of those whose parents were smart enough to get them out of the way before the big bang happened. Partridge's father is the co-ordinator, and, as we learn, the brains behind the creation of the Dome (I don't count this as a spoiler, it's obvious from early on). Those inside call themselves 'Blessed' and those outside are 'wretches'
Those outside live very different lives and this is where this book departs so very far from Hunger Games.
HG was fine: I reviewed it on Good Reads a while ago. I liked it. I enjoyed it. I read it fast and easily and was impressed by the imagery and concept, at least of the first two. At no point was I scared. HG presents a very air-brushed, Dysney, full techni-colour, super-saturated, saccharine kind of dystopia. It's not nice, but it's clearly fantasy. You could, I imagine, read it to your five year old and while they might not get all the embedded cultural references, they wouldn't lose sleep.
I lost sleep over Pure. Or at least, my dreams took on very Pure-related landscapes. The world outside the Dome is neither Dysney nor fluffy nor in the least Technicolour.
Our two protagonists on the outside, Pressia and Bradwell, were both young when the blast took place and have both been disfigured by it; as has every single living thing in their world. Pressia has a doll's head welded onto her arm - it's become a part of her. Bradwell has living birds embedded in his back. Everyone has something, some metal/plastic/animal/vegetable/mineral something which has welded itself to their body and become a part of them.
The worst affected have become Dusts, semi-autonomous earth-based monsters that can drag a living human down into the earth and devour him/her. Some have become almost-sentient trees. The worst, for me, were the mothers who lived forever with their children attached to them, either as almost-separate kids, permanently hiding behind their skirts, or as in the worst case, reduced to a blink of an eye in one woman's arm. What really got to me was the suggestion in the book that this happened in Japan after Hiroshoma and Nagasaki and was simply suppressed by the various governments of the time who didn't want their populations having nightmares of post-nuclear life. I rather imagine that the CND would have been a lot louder, larger and more vocal if this were true. I have no idea if it is, but it sounds horribly plausible.
So in this terrifying, believable, grey, windy world, four young people, growing to adulthood meet and must find their way. How they do so is the bulk of the book and I'm not going to tell you that, but I do urge you to read it. This is a devour-in-one-breathless-breathtaking-sitting kind of a book. I can't wait for the sequels.
Those expecting a book that is riding on the coat tails of The Hunger Games or utilizing the same concepts as that series or flogging the same plot lines to death will not find that here; this book is absolutely unique and as different in terms of content from The Hunger Games as any book I could name.
However, the feeling, involvement and how the reader is sucked into the whole world of Pure is just the same, and if anything, even better.
I cannot say it loudly enough; Read this book!
It is set in the aftermath of "the detonations" where there are two seperate subsets of survivors..the ones who live in The Dome - the so called "Pure" and those outside, who are fused to various degrees with objects they were close to at the time of detonation. We follow several characters, mainly Pressia, a girl with a dolls head for a hand and Partridge, a pure from the dome. What happens when Partridge leaves the dome and meets up with Pressia forms the basis for the rest of the book and we discover more about what happened as they do...
A well written story that leaves you desperately wanting to know what happens next..my kind of book! Roll on 2013 and "Fused".
Its not your classic YA read, the main female character is not perfect (pure) but she's one the strongest characters I'v come across and described in beautiful detail as is the rest of the novel.
The descriptions are graphic and inventive and in places paint a disturbing vision of dystopia with the fused bodies and ruined land outside the dome. I dont like spoilers but think part Alice in Wonderland, part Mad Max and part Brave New World. The Hunger Games was softened when it reached the big screen, I hope the same doesnt happen here.
all in all, I loved this my imagination was more shaken than stirred and I look forward to the next part. The only reason it didnt get full 5 stars is slight mistakes or inconsistencies...you may not even notice
Boy did I do her a great disservice. She creates worlds in a similar fantastical mould as Paolo Bacigalupi and China Miéville
There are plenty of smart reviews below which outline the plot, so I will really only add one more thing... buy this book!