Saturday, February 4, 2012

Book Review; "Pure" by Julianna Baggott

The Scoop: (Goodreads)

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.

My Take:

Pure enchanted me from the very beginning. Pressia and her grandfather are interesting and complex characters from the initial pages. Then, just when I knew Pure was going to be a terrific read, it got even better with the addition of Partridge and the citizens inside the Dome.

The Setting:

Baggott is quite the phenomenal world-builder! I found myself immersed in this desperate, frequently ugly (but occasionally beautiful) post-apocalyptic world. The story is that "someone" built a huge Dome that would withstand an atomic blast and support (for quite some time, evidently) the people lucky enough to be inside it. Then "someone" (surprisingly enough) sets off multiple atomic bombs thus officially separating the have's from the have-not's.

In Pure, Pauly Shore's Dome privileges have been revoked...

So, friends and neighbors, what we have here is actually two sides of the dystopian tale:
The world Pressia lives in outside of the Dome, filled with hunger, poverty, ignorance, mutations, pain, loss, and the constant threat of death or capture.

Then there's Partridge's life inside of the Dome, filled with education, universal health care, food pellets, beautiful "Pures", school dances, museums, dictators and the constant threat of genetic mutation, The Man, and little bombs being planted in your noggin.

That'll teach you to mess with THE DOME!

The fact of the matter is that, now that the bombs have gone off, the world is crap both inside and outside of the Dome. However, as you already know: the grass is always less radioactive on the other side of the fence and Pressia is just as jealous of the world inside of the Dome as Partridge is of the freedom outside of it.

"No. You have it better..."

Baggott's descriptions of the brave new world and the amazing characters populating it had me alternating between feelings of exhilaration, raw fear, nausea and hope. I found Pure difficult to read at times because of the graphic descriptions of life outside the Dome and the physical aftermath of the mutations. Not that these details distracted from my enjoyment in any way. I'm actually glad that Baggott didn't gloss over or shy away from the disgusting effects of the Detonations. (Baggott was inspired to write Pure after learning more about the aftermath of the detonation of the H-Bomb on Hiroshima in World War 2.)

The Peeps:

Pressia is quite the KAH. That is not to say that she isn't afraid or that it doesn't take some time for her to fully develop, but she knows her way around the cold, cruel world she is living in. She initially saves one of our heroes the first time they meet and I love it when that happens! Not only is her current situation difficult enough, Pressia earns added pressure of being forced to "serve/die" for the OSR (a group that was created to find survivors and has since become a militaristic branch similar to Germany's circa 1942).

If this guy comes a-knockin' you better start running.

Bradwell is mysterious, clever, self-sufficient and all-around amazing. He is an a love interest worthy of our butt-kicking superstar, Pressia. I love that both of these characters are strong-willed and smart. Baggott felt no need to make one of the pair weaker so the other could be stronger (or the rescuer). It is possible, YA writers, for two people in a potential love affair to be tough and amazing in their own right and ultimately rescue each other. (Just say NO to whiny victims!)

"She rescues him right back."

Partridge is smart, funny, self-sacrificing and tough. I loved watching him acclimate to the world outside the dome. Lyda is another great, intelligent character that surprised me from start to finish.

The supporting characters in Pure are perfectly fleshed out and completely interesting. Each one contributes to the story in a different and important way.


I really liked Pure and it is a welcome addition to the slew of Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic novels on the market today. Bloggett stands out with her amazing world-building and beautiful, captivating characters. I can't wait to see where this twisted world is taking them next.

Final Verdict:


  1. Wanted to read this for a long time though I'm a vegeterian and would never try steak tartare! Glad you liked it so much and I love your rating style :)

    1. Haha. I just can't think of a vegetarian equivilant that would be gross enough :) Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I picked up a copy of this at BEA last year and I am reading it now, I love it so far. The story is engaging and suspenseful. Can hardly put it down.

  3. Wow wow! I can't wait to read this now I have a copy on my shelf thank goodness! this sounds right up my alley and I love the way you describe the writing!



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