Pure by Julianna Baggott
Published by Grand Central Publishing, an imprint of Hachette
Pressia survived the Detonations almost unscathed, with nothing to show for them other than the small doll’s head fused to her fist. Many people weren’t so lucky – millions of people died, or fused together, or became part of the earth, or became crippled by the huge items that fused to their bodies. She doesn’t think much about the Before, just spends her time with her grandfather in his small apartment, her grandfather who has cared for her ever since her parents died in the Detonations. Partridge has a much nicer life – he is a Pure. The Pures escaped the catastrophic Detonations by living in the Dome, a secluded world that only the very privileged and important people were sent to just before the world exploded. But Partridge doesn’t have a perfect life in the Dome – his father is emotionally distant, his mother refused to join them and died in the Detonations, and shortly after, his brother killed himself. When he ventures outside the Dome and meets Pressia, both of their lives are turned completely upside-down.
Oh my gosh, I don’t know how to even review Pure. There were so many disturbing things about this book, but ultimately I couldn’t put it down. The world Baggott created in Pure is bleak, no question about that. It might just be the most disturbing post-apocalyptic world I’ve seen in fiction yet. People are fused with nature. People are fused with other people. People are fused with animals, for gosh sakes. It’s incredibly distressing to read but also I had a hard time looking away. I wanted more but I was afraid to want more. I know, that sounds so weird, but I swear if you read the book that will make sense.
What is so redeeming about this novel is how truly fabulous and well-drawn its characters are. Pressia has seen the worst of humanity but still holds out hope for a better life for herself, and has an intense devotion and love for her grandfather, despite the fact that she’s lost everyone else she’s loved. Partridge, who rebels against his father’s teachings and searches high and low to find the mother he knows didn’t abandon him, was a character I didn’t love at first but came to really admire. And Bradwell, sweet, hardened Bradwell, well that guy stole my heart. He’s been through the worst of the worst, with no family or real friends, leading an underground movement to overthrow the Dome, and when the Detonations came a flock of birds fused to his back, so they are forever a part of his body and soul. You wouldn’t think love would be possible in a world this awful but you would be wrong – these three form something of a little family as they fight to stay alive in this insane, terrifying world.
I raced through this book and couldn’t put it down. Ultimately, it has a very hopeful feel to it, as these characters force you to believe that anything is possible, that this world can change and redemption is possible. I found it to be a fresh take on the whole dystopia/post-apocalyptic genre and I believe it to be a welcome addition to the pool of other great books in this vein. Read it!