Pure by Julianna Baggott

So, this is one I read a few months ago actually, and reviewed on Waterstones.com, but since then, I’ve been meaning to do a full review for a rich and wonderful book which deserves an awful lot of praise. I believe it’s not due out UK-side until February of next year, but when it’s out, you better believe it’ll be in my feature spaces and recommended to everyone I meet in-store…

So Dystopian Fiction is on the rise at the moment, and I for one am LOVING it. From the US, Michael Grant’s Gone series and Ilsa Bick’s Ashes, to the UK and Charlie Higson’s unstoppable The Enemy & Co, I’m devouring Dystopia as fast as I can, and Pure is one of the single best examples of the genre I’ve come across in the world of YA or Adult Science Fiction. Set in a Post-Apocalyptic America, a decade after nuclear Armageddon has reduced the civilised world to rubble inhabited by poor scavengers trying to survive and twisted predators, Pure expertly manages to spin together to very different lives into one epic struggle for truth in a ruined world. On the outside, living day to day with her grandfather is sixteen year old Pressia, a girl who like so many others, bares a horrible reminder of the tragic nuclear attacks so long ago: her childhood doll’s head has been permanently fused to her hand. In the world she inhabits, trading and trying to survive, there are two factions, one who strives to control the world through a brutal military regime, abducting all those of sixteen and over, and the dwellers of the Dome, a mysterious giant hovering dome that appeared before the attacks, housing people who where privileged enough to survive the blast unscathed: The Pure. Pressia lives life hiding from one, and resenting the other. Patridge has lived most of his life in the Dome, Pure. He can barely remember the outside world, or his mother, who never made it to the Dome in time. But Partridge is starting to question the Dome’s teachings. His father is lying to him, and he needs to break out to find answers, to find out the truth about why some where spared, and others left to die, and whether or not his mother is truly dead. On the outside, he enlists the help of Pressia and other survivors of the devastation to help find out the truth, all the while, hiding his past and his heritage, because there are many people in this wasteland, who would love to get their hands on a Pure… And punish then viciously.

Pure is a great social commentary, and a great exploration of human beings as society is either broken down into nothing, or pushed so tight that every single aspect is controlled, and how that sense of control and freedom at extremes, can cause people to break. Set against a horrifically twisted nuclear Armageddon, with brilliantly constructed characters with superb and imaginative mutations to really set the apart (a boy with dozens of bird wings embedded in his back has never left my mind). The novel deals with complex themes and ideas which are difficult for adults to comprehend, yet puts them forth in a way that is non-condescending but easily accessible, and really pulls at emotions of betrayal, trust and desperation, ultimately resulting in a powerful union between characters based on first necessity, and later a mutual respect and binding thirst for knowledge about the men and women who played God so many years ago. The mystery and action are excellently paced, with on the edge chapters leading to brilliant resolutions, character developments and further plot thickening devices, and the twists and explosive action literally never let you know what’s coming next. A simple but effective imaginative world in Pure clearly stems from a wonderfully rich and widely developed world that the author has clearly worked on for years, building up a layered and fascinating back story, which is teased out through descriptive passages and plot revelations.

All in all, Pure is a superb Sci-Fi title, highly recommended to anyone who has been loving Dystopia lately, and one that I can NOT wait to visit again in what I’m sure will be a stellar sequel. I just hope I can get a proof of it early again!

D

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