Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book Review: PURE by Julianna Baggott

(Summary from Amazon):
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.

A post-apocalyptic novel that has science so fantastical it almost borders on magic. An exploration of the bad sides to a lot of the things we take for granted thanks to consumerism. This book is not the next Hunger Games, because it's too different for that--expecting The Hunger Games might put your head in the wrong place, and if there's anything I can do for you before you read this, it's to keep you from having any preconceived notions. What this book IS: the next thing you read that'll make you think hard long after you've put it down.

There's a dome where the lucky live, and there's outside, which is where the rest of humanity is. Those inside the dome are living in a dystopic environment; a controlled place in which individuals have few choices, and their safety and the paths of their lives are based on huge lies. Those outside are in a post-apocalyptic world, waiting for the time when the people inside the dome will rescue them. Detonations went off that fused people to whatever they were near. There are people who became fused together, fused to trinkets or furniture, fused to other animals, fused to the ground itself. And the worse you've been fused, the more dangerous you are.

One main character comes from the outside world. The other comes from inside the dome. Pressia is resourceful and quiet. She does what needs to be done, but she isn't overly emotional about anything. She's had to learn to be that way to get by in her world. Partridge is curious--a trait that's dangerous no matter where he is, inside the dome or outside.

Did you ever consider what it might be like to be defined by worldly possessions? Literally defined by them, because they're part of your body? Or what might happen if our society became so classist, you could tell just by looking at someone whether or not they belong in the same social place you do? A lot of books explore the idea of fighting a restrictive government, or having to play by certain rules to get to a place where you have the chance to change things. But for Pressia, there are no rules. And for Partridge, there are too many rules. Once they meet, you realize how much their worlds intersect. Way more than they ever could have imagined.

And there's a twist at the end you won't see coming.


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