Book Review 2012-005
Pure by Julianna Baggott
2012 by Grand Central Publishing, 434 pages
(I purchased this book).
Pure, by Julianna Baggott, is in one way a new direction for the author--the novel has a post-apocalyptic setting. I'll start by saying this, Baggot writes about the future as well as she writes of the past (trust me when I suggest you also look for her novel, The Madam, it's fantstic).
Pure is given to the reader section by section, from the points of view of various individuals, but two of the most frequently used points are that of Partridge, referred to as a Pure, and Pressia, frequently referred to as a wretch. Prior to the beginning of the novel, known to those in this world as The Before, there were great explosions or The Detonations. Only those that were living inside a protective dome survived completely intact, hence, pure. Those poor wretches outside the dome survived with scars, burns, fused together with items (Pressia has the doll she was holding at the time in place of one of her hands).
Was there an attack on what used to be the United States? Was somebody inside the dome responsible in some sort of testing project? It's not really held as a mystery for too long, and isn't truly the driving force behind the novel (which I should note, is the first of a trilogy). The stories of Patridge and Pressia and some of those that they encounter: Bradwell, a young man who is off the grid, having believed to be dead from The Detonations, who has birds fused to his back; el Capitan, another young man with his younger brother fused to his back (they were on a motorcycle when The Detonations occurred), and Lyda, a young pure woman linked somewhat to Patridge.
Patridge believes his mother, supposedly dead, is in fact alive and a wretch. Pressia's 16th birthday is approaching and as a wretch, at that point, you get recruited to the OSR, an organization that is supposed to be planning to overtake those in the dome. He escapes the dome to search; she's on the run from the OSR. Not so surprisingly they run into each other. What I do think is surprising is how well Baggott has the reader ready for this event and the rest of the novel from that point.
The characters are all very well developed but not at the detriment of moving the book forward--it's close to being a page-turner (I moved through the last 250 pages in one sitting). Baggott includes interesting bits of science, sociology, and philosophy and creates a very believable world for her charactes to inhabit. I'll be honest, were it not by an author I already really liked, I probably would not have picked Pure up, so I'm really glad that it was indeed written by this poet/novelist whose prior works I enjoyed so much. It's worth your time.