Ok, I’m just gonna jump straight to the point. Pure by Julianna Baggott has all the makings of a great dystopian novel. Futuristic, yet devastated civilization. Haughty “better” class. Something terrible that sets the lower class apart from the higher. Missing family members. Love interest.
In this instance, the decimation to society was caused by a global nuclear bombing. No one is clear on how or why, just that billions of people are now dead. Our story takes place in the remains of the United States, near Baltimore. Inside a biosphere-like “Dome” are the Pures. These are the people unaffected by the blasts–no scars, no fusings, no missing limbs. They were “lucky” enough to be in the Dome before the Denotations. Outside are the Wretches. These are the people who survived the bombings and the resulting radiation, but who are deformed because of it. We’re talking people fused together (Groupies), people fused to inanimate objects (whatever they were standing next to/holding at the time of Detonation), and people with terrible mutations.
Pressia is a Wretch–left with no parents and scant memories of the Before–she has scars on her face and a doll’s head fused to her hand. For some reason she can’t yet fathom, she is special to the people inside the Dome. Partridge, on the other hand, is a Pure. Not just any Pure. The only living son of the Pure’s leader. When his father slips and says something that leads Partridge to believe his mother may still be alive somewhere outside the Dome, he can’t take action fast enough.
When these two teenagers from VERY different places meet, it will change everything they thought they knew about themselves and their places in the world.
Is being Pure really everything?
Baggott did a GREAT job illustrating her ruined earth. You can really see the bomb-riddled world in your mind’s eye, and she created a number of interesting beasts to go along with the atmosphere. I like the social commentary about how looks set us apart from others, and how they’ve always been used to classify someone ugly as “less” than someone attractive. Not to mention a nod to the terror a nuclear war would present–not only the bombing but also the aftermath.
I felt this story was very cinematic. It held a very fast pace throughout, and switched between character perspectives frequently. There’s no room to get bored here. I LOVED the descriptions of the Wretches, and how their various mutations and deformities began to define or symbolize them as a person. How they learned to adapt was incredible.
I HIGHLY recommend this book. A new favorite for sure. Watch out, Hunger Games.