The Detonations destroyed the world and humanity as we know it. Now the survivors cling to life, mutated and constantly in danger from those who lost their humanity in the Detonations. Pressia is one of the survivors, and with her sixteenth birthday approaching she’ll soon be taken to either be trained as a killer or used as live target practice by the rebel group whose goal is to take down the Dome in which live the Pures: privileged humans who survived the Detonations intact. But life as a Pure isn’t as easy as it seems. Partridge, son of one of the Dome’s leaders senses that something is wrong and decides to discover the truth for himself.
The world building in Pure is fantastic; however, a plot that moves in sprints and sputters held me back from enjoying it fully. Furthermore, the characters are an interesting mix, but the relationships between them was undeveloped and underutilized.
Baggott’s world both before and after the Detonations is close enough to our world to be frightening, but original enough to be interesting. Of course, the aftermath of the Detonations, lik how the survivors have to deal with mutations such as Groupies (groups of people that were fused together) or Dusts (people who were fused with the Earth), was both interesting and terrifying, but it was the gender politics of the world that really pulled me in. The commentary on the transformation of feminism into an organization that promotes “femininity” and becomes a new form of oppression contrasted well with the army of housewives and mothers who are some of the most awesome characters in the book. (And I mean that in the original meaning of “awesome.”)
Speaking of characters, it was really great getting to see a woman of colour as the protagonist. The characters could allow for a dialogue on people with physical and mental disabilities and mental illness. These elements are not the focus of the novel per say, but they are definitely important elements, and I think this would be a really interesting book to discuss for a book club or in a classroom.
If I have one issue with the book, it would have to be the pacing both with the plot and relationship development. I was unable to match with the heartbeat of the novel. There were chapters at a time that would seem to go nowhere, and then suddenly everything was happening all at once, characters were making huge decisions that didn’t seem to have a good reason (I’m looking at you Partridge), and when it came to the romantic relationships, I’m not sure if even insta-love could cover it. There was some attempt at a relationship build up for one of the pairings, but it was sloppy and ineffective. I think I would have preferred insta-love because at least I can recognize it for what it is.
However, I think in the end the good outweighs the bad for me. Themes that I enjoy and consider to be important were presented in an interesting and intelligent way, and I look forward to reading more by Julianna Baggott. Thankfully, Fuse, the second book in the trilogy, is sitting on my bookshelf just waiting for me to pick it up!
Don’t just take my word for it!
“Though it may require more of a commitment than other novels, Pure is a worthwhile read which will leave you looking at our society through a clearer lens.” – Angel @ Mermaid Visions
“If you want dystopia-post-apocalyptic lite, search elsewhere.” – April @ Good Books and Good Wine
“What I really liked about this book is that you think you know what is happening and then Julianna pulls something out that completely blows your mind.” – Andrea @ Cozy Up with a Good Book
“PURE ran me through a whole gamut of feelings – disturbed, sentimental, fear, anxiety, peace, hope, joy – and I loved every single moment of it.” – Alexa Loves Books
“Ultimately, Pure by Julianna Baggott is a dystopian meets science-fiction with incredible depth and detail.” – Lisa is Busy Nerding