Pure by Julianna Baggott: Review

Posted April 12, 2012 by Kylie in book review, Uncategorized / 8 Comments

Pure by Julianna Baggott
Series: Pure #1
Published by Grand Central Publishing on February 8, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Action & Adventure, Thrillers, General
Pages: 448
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four-stars

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.

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!

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8 responses to “Pure by Julianna Baggott: Review

  1. I haven't heard of this before, but it sounds really weird. They really use a doll's head for a hand? I probably won't pick this one up.

    • Yes, there is a doll's head as a hand! I accepted that the story was not a realistic one I could imagine myself into, so I got over the weirdness and powered through it. Now I feel like I need to find out what happens!

      By the way, I just finished a book called Unspoken (by Sarah Rees Brennan). The main's name is Kami! The review won't be out until near September, but watch for it–I loved it!!

  2. Amy

    Aw, I really loved this one, but we all have different tastes. I think for me The Hunger Games comparison comes from how unique it is and the social issues it addresses and the world building rather than having other things in common.

    • I really did like it, Amy! I agree with you on the reasons for the Hunger Games comparison. Pure was more out of my norm than I expected, and like I said–the review reads more negatively than I wanted it to. I'll be waiting right along with you for the next book!

  3. Ems

    I have a galley of this that I've been putting off. I've started and stopped a dozen times. I'm just so squeamish about all the odd fusing stuff. I'm still deciding what to do about it.

    Hearing that it's a 4 star for you, even with the weirdness, may tip the scales in favor of reading it.

    • Oh, that is great to hear. Try reading it again! I don't want my review to scare people off! This book wasn't entirely in my comfort zone, hence the less-than-raving review, but the story hooked me once I got over the fusings. If you do read it, I want your final opinion!

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