I finished this yesterday and I have to say, this is the first series that has excited me in quite some time. Pure by Julianna Baggott is the first in a trilogy, set in a post-apocalyptic world. It kept me hooked; I loved the characters and Baggott’s world building was stunning. Word of note: this will include large spoilers.
Pure is set in a world which sees, after the atomic Detonations over a decade earlier, two societies co-existing together. There are those ‘blessed’ enough to have been allowed entry into the Dome, where humanity remains ‘Pure’ from the impact of the nuclear bombs, and the world outside the Dome, filled with ‘wretches’ – people struggling to survive in post-apocalyptic society, many of which are fused to objects, people and animals which happened to be around during the moment the Detonations hit.
Pressia Belze is the main protagonist, although Baggott splits the book so we get a third person perspective from Pressia, Partridge (a Pure), Lyda (another Pure) and El Capitan (a man fused with his brother on his back). Another character of note is Bradwell. He sheds light on the Dome’s sketchy existence and soon becomes a love interest for Pressia.
I thought the way the book was structured in the different sections was very well done. It gave you different splinters to the story, and allowed you to see things which were being set in motion, including things which had yet to happen to the main group of characters. I think it was much better than if the novel had been structured with Pressia alone giving a first person perspective.
I liked the characters. They seemed realistic, likeable, and they grew on you through the course of the book. My one note would be regarding Bradwell. I didn’t warm to him as I felt I should, particularly considering he becomes Pressia’s love interest. To be honest, I had expected Partridge to become Pressia’s love interest, and then Baggott throws in the fact that they’re half brother and sister, which obviously killed that idea. Perhaps if Bradwell had his own segment, I might have grown to him a bit more. Or maybe he’s a character which will grow on me throughout the course of the trilogy.
I have to admit there were a few details, including a rather large plot twist, which I managed to guess in advance of the characters. I had it all figured out rather quickly when everything came together, so there was a point where I was waiting for the characters to catch up to the realisation I had made pages earlier. This happened most notably twice, with the revelation of Pressia’s parentage (and thus Partridge’s relationship to her) and with the discovery that Partridge’s brother was still alive, albeit in a different form.
A lot happens in Pure, and for the most part it happens in a very short time scale. It’s very action packed. As soon as one crisis is over, another quickly follows it. There is very little downtime for the characters to sit back and reflect on what has happened, although that isn’t to say that there isn’t character reflection. There is. My only point is that this constant pace might not be favourable with some readers.
Thankfully, although this book was literally screaming with the living depiction of humanity’s flaws, it never strayed anywhere near lecture territory. It made a nice contrast with the dystopian book I read late last week in which there was a very prominent lecture right in the middle of the narrative.
I have to say regarding the ending, I was expecting a greater cliff-hanger. The epilogue didn’t truly feel like an epilogue. If anything, it should have remained a continuation of the narrative from the final pages. It was set in the same time frame with the same characters. The events carried on immediately from before the epilogue began. I saw no need to separate them. There was no Lauren Oliver-esque cliff-hanger taunting me for the next book. Only the mention of the Black Boxes, which although I’m sure they bear significance, since we haven’t been given the slightest clue what their significance is, I’m not left hanging.
Overall, I thought it was a good book. I look forward to reading Fuse, out at some point in 2013. I expect good things for this series. And as always, it was lovely to read some well written dystopian YA. Pure is a book I would readily recommend.