By: Julianna Baggott
Review by: Kylie Comfoltey
The world has been destroyed in a nuclear war. The Detonations have fused people with pieces of The Before: metal, wood, glass, plastic, other people; even earth and stone. There are two groups of people left: wretches and Pure. The Pure live a 'healthy' life in the Dome, and the wretches suffer life outside breathing ash, running from creatures and fellow humans alike, and eating anything deemed semi-edible--all the while holding onto the hope that someday, those in the Dome will come to their aid.
I’m having a hard time with this one. I liked this book, but parts of it were a touch too weird for me. All the marketing hype portrayed it as “The Next Hunger Games;” I expected a more realistic post-apocalyptic/dystopian nightmare readers can dive into and imagine living. That was not my experience. The Hunger Games series is more believable and, frankly, less creepy. It is relatable for people of all ages. People aren’t fused with gears and glass. They don’t have infants melded to their biceps or brothers or birds attached to their backs.
I didn’t get into this book until maybe halfway through. The last quarter is fast-paced and action-packed, but the first half (at least) is slow and a little too descriptive for my taste. The author clearly spent a lot of time envisioning this world and wanted the reader to fully understand and grasp the atmosphere and living circumstances of the wretches vs. the Pures, but a huge chunk of the book felt more concentrated on description and violence than plot and character development, which is more my thing.
There are two main protagonists. Pressia, a wretch; and Partride, a Pure. On one arm, Pressia sports a doll head fist instead of a hand. She had been holding the doll when the Detonations struck, and it became a part of her. The doll head plays a part in the story, but I’m still not feeling like, “Oh, that seems normal. It just replaced her hand. That happens.”
The romances in the book are incredibly weak. Particularly Partridge’s. It seems almost like the author created a faux romance out of desperation to add more depth to the story, or maybe just to add another character's viewpoint. Perhaps that character has a stronger part in forthcoming books? Pressia’s romance story comes together better at the end, but there is very little buildup. Then again, I don't think Baggott was going for romance to be a major factor.
Overall: I am intrigued. I want to read the rest of the story. I’m unsettled and a little weirded out, and this review sounds more negative than I meant it to (I'm giving it four stars, people!), but I liked the character development when it was there and I’m hoping for more of that to overshine the Groupies and Dusts in books to come. Pure is not a book everyone and their mother/sibling/teacher/doctor will be comfortable reading. But try it: if you like it, you'll really like it!
Sexuality: Small references. Mild overall.
Violence: Medium to heavy at parts. Baggott is very descriptive.