Author: Julianna Baggott

Publication: 2012, Grand Central Publishing

Pages: 431

Overall Rating:  bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]                      

Rating for Action: bth_3-star-rating_zps73bdba73[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_25_zps13f4f4eb[1]

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary: Pressia and her grandfather live in the devastation left behind after the Detonations – a world of ruined buildings and blasted landscapes, full of hunger and disease.  She has to hide from the OSR – or Operation Sacred Revolution – who will force her into their ranks when she turns 16 – and hordes of ruined people, who’s bodies where horribly altered by the Detonations.

Partridge lives in The Dome, a place sheltered from the disease and violence of the rest of the world.  He is a Pure, his body free from the horrible deformities found outside the Dome.  His life is privileged and easy – until he stumbles across evidence that his mother may still be alive somewhere out in the wastes.  He comes up with a plan to escape The Dome and find her.

When Pressia and Partridge meet, everything they thought they knew begins to unravel.  The world will never be the same again.

Age of Main Character: 16

What I Liked the Most: Baggott has created a world that goes far beyond your typical post-nuclear horrors.  The most interesting twist: fusing.  When the detonations occurred, people fused to the objects around them.  Pressia’s hand fused with a doll’s head.  Her friend Bradwell has a trio of birds fused to his back.  Other people are fused to one another – mothers with babies fused to their hips, and El Capitain, an officer in the OSR, who’s brother is fused to his back.  And then there are the Dusts, who fused with the earth, and the Beasts, who fused with animals.

The fusing didn’t always make sense to me.  I couldn’t understand how people could have survived the process, or the simple physics of how a doll’s head could fuse around a hand without becoming a melted lump of pastic.  But it was still a fascinating idea that gave an extra dose of freaky to this particular post-apocalyptic reality.  I especially enjoyed The Mothers – a group of bad-ass suburban moms with kids fused to their bodies and butcher knives in their hands.

What I Liked the Least: Near the end, Baggott tries to delve into the science behind fusing and some of the other more unusual experiments taking place within The Dome – i.e. coding, a process by which they enhance peoples’ speed and strength while also making them easier to control.  Fusing and coding are fun and add a unique touch to the story, but Baggott’s limited attempt to explain them was just plain confusing, as was her explanation of a convoluted conflict between Partridge’s father and another group of researchers, including his mother, that may ultimately have led to the detonations.  Perhaps I didn’t read these passages closely enough, or perhaps Baggott was trying to maintain the sense of mystery for the next book in the series.  Either way, the explanation simply left me confused.

How Good was the Action? It was a mixed bag.  When the action involved just one person, like Pressia, fighting for her life, it could get fairly intense.  There wasn’t a lot of blow-by-blow detail, but the scenes flowed with some fairly powerful emotions that kept the pace pumping along.  On the other hand, many of the action scenes involved a lot of characters fighting together.  In those scenes, I wasn’t really seeing the action through any one person’s point of view.  So while the blow-by-blow detail was descent, there wasn’t much in the way of emotional intensity.  The battles took place, but they didn’t draw me in.  The end result was action that was fairly tepid.

How Engaging was the Story? The characters are vivid and well-developed, and their many disfigurations give them a visual punch that makes them hard to forget.  It’s a powerful story.  All the same, it’s one I didn’t have a lot of trouble putting down.  I read it over the course of a couple of weeks, often in snippets of ten or twenty pages.  I kept coming back, but I didn’t feel compelled to do so.

Pure is one those books that has a lot going on, with a great setting and vivid characters, but for me it wasn’t always fast enough to keep me turning the pages.  Reading it can be a great experience, but it requires a fair bit of commitment.

Overall Assessment: Pure provides a dark and somewhat twisted vision of the future.  It’s a bleak place, but friendship and even love can still exist among the ruins.  This is a long, dense story, and it doesn’t exactly race along at a break-neck pace, but if you’re willing to put in the time it makes for a powerful, intensely imagined read.

Profanity: Some, but not too extreme.

Sex: None.

Violence: Yes.  People get stabbed, beaten, and shot.  Partridge has a finger cut off.  There is blood.  But the violence never felt overly gory or graphic.

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