We know you are here, our brothers and sisters. We will, one day, emerge from the Dome to join you in peace. For now, we watch from afar.
Pressia barely remembers life before the Detonations. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, as her birthday approaches, she remembers beautiful parks, birthday parties, fathers and mothers.
Now, all is ash and dust, scars and damaged bodies — and at sixteen, the age when all are required to turn themselves over to the militia, Pressia decides to run.
Partridge is a “Pure” — one of the few who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. The “Pures” are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects them, and Partridge’s father is one of their leaders. Despite a relatively easy life, Partridge feels isolated and lonely, and he thinks a great deal about loss.
His father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his beloved mother never made it inside the Dome. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive on the outside, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome in the hope that he’ll find her. The day Pressia meets Partridge is the day their worlds begin to shatter all over again.
– Publisher’s Blurb
Oh what to say about this one. The world Pressia inhabits is about as post-appocolytic/dystopian as could imagine. Unlike some recent dystopias, this is a harsh, incredibly bleak world without a scrap of beauty to redeem it. Society is almost non-existent, the few survivors are horribly deformed, struggle to eat and live, and the remaining younger members live in fear of being press-ganged in to a militia as soon as they turn 16.
Partridge’s world, may be filled with all the beauty and food, that is missing from Pressia’s, but it is run with a heavily oppressive rule, and Partridge and his peers, are forced to have ‘enhancements’ made to their brains and bodies.
This all works wonderfully well. But there’s another part of the book that’s also goddamm weird. Those that were outside the dome when the detonations hit (and survived) were ‘fused’ to whatever they were touching at the time… Pressisa was holding a doll for example, so now her hand has been replaced by her dolls head… Another character’s back is covered by still living birds… You see what I mean? Weird.
Julianna Baggott, some how however makes it work and keeps it the right side of over-the-top. I’ll be honest it takes a decent amount of the book to do so, but at some point, you do just accept it ‘as is’ and stop worrying about it.
The story is told from multiple view points and at first I wanted to complain, as I wanted to concentrate on Pressia and Partridge’s story, but I couldn’t have been more wrong, bit by bit the other characters worm their way in to your affections, and all the strands of the story become strong and compelling.
I think my absolute favourite thing about the book is the journeys all the main characters take. I wouldn’t go so far to say Julianna Baggott turns conventions on their heads, but few of the characters end up totally filling the roles you’d expect when you first meet them. It’s refreshing to see, and makes you like them all the more.
While I’m not going to put it in the same league as Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy, but I’ve not had a book since I read those, that had me thinking about moral boundaries, quite as much as this one did even a week after finishing it. In this case it’s much more about the ‘truths’ of what was done and continues to be done rather than something the characters have to grapple with.
It’s by no means an easy read, but it is an affecting and totally compelling one and very much worth persevering with.
[xrrgroup][xrr label="Characters:" rating="5/6" group="s1" ] [xrr label="Plot:" rating="5/6" group="s1"] [xrr label="Writing:" rating="5/6" group="s1"] [xrr label="Just One More Chapter?:" rating="4/6" group="s1"] [xrr label="Overall:" overall=true group="s1" ][/xrrgroup]
Buy: Pure by Julianna Baggott from The Book Depository
My copy of Pure by Julianna Baggott was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
Pure will be published 02/02/12