My Catchphrases

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Guest Review: Pure by Julianna Baggott

Title: Pure
Series: Pure
Author: Julianna Baggott
Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: 2 Feb 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.
Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.
When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.


I was lucky enough to be given an ARC of Pure when I attended the Youth Librarians Group annual conference as a speaker. I had no idea that the publishers would be there giving away so many copies of so many books. In amongst the excesses my eye was immediately drawn to the column of pure white books; no name, no author, nothing which I could see from a distance. Next to them was an equally anonymous pile of black books. A white one fell into my hands and I could finally see the title in shiny white on the matt background. Of all the books I picked up, it was this one which drew me back first. Full marks to the marketing department!

The story is set in a future America, a few years after a hideous nuclear holocaust and where there are two types of people: the ‘Pures’, the ones who made it into the protection of the Dome before the event, and the rest, the ones who are hideously deformed by the frightening new horrors of nano-technology nuclear bombs. Pressia is one of these, fused to an old toy for the rest of her life, however long that might be. And with the life she leads, it doesn’t seem as if that is likely to be very long as all. Destined to be collected by the murderous local militia on her imminent sixteenth birthday, as is the rule, she is making her plans to run from the only comfort and family she has left, to find a way to continue surviving.

Running alongside Pressia’s story is that of Partridge, a boy in the Dome, a Pure with everything to be thankful for. But Partridge knows that something is wrong, and his questions to himself and those around him soon set him on a path from which there is no going back. Woven through their stories are the intertwined lives of others and the narrative continues from a growing selection of viewpoints.

Pressia and Partridge are well-drawn: the author quickly gets you involved in their lives and you become invested in them, wanting them to be OK, to win their fights, to figure it all out. As a result I was keen to read on with this book, eagerly picking it back up when I had the time to continue, and thinking about it at odd moments during my day. But as much as I liked the characters, I found the world in which they were living hard to fathom. In Pressia’s world there are mutations so awful that it is next to impossible to escape from them, but escape she did, time and time again, and in the end I stopped believing in it. There were a couple of clever little twists which made me applaud the author, but overall the plot and the descriptions of the horrors became unnecessarily complex, and I had to keep thinking hard about why people were doing what they were doing. The ending clearly points the way to a sequel (saying it is the end of Book One being the most obvious clue!) so maybe the complexity is necessary for the ongoing story, but I’m not sure I’ll be searching for it on the shelves.

Huge thank you to Sue for reviewing this one and letting me put it on my blog <3


  1. I'm still not sure on this one. x

  2. Hmmm I wasn't interested in the until I read Sues review.. Now I'm intrigued! I may have to check it out to find out what the horrors are that Sue speaks of!


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