Pure by Julianna Baggott

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Pure by Julianna Baggott

Buy Pure by Julianna Baggott at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Madeline Wheatley
Reviewed by Madeline Wheatley
Summary: Pure is the first part of a trilogy exploring life in a post apocalyptic world. The main survivors are divided between the Pure, who live in an uncontaminated dome, and the Wretches, who struggle to exist on the surface of a seriously polluted planet.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: February 2012
Publisher: Headline
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0755385485

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A Hiroshima-like event called the Detonations has transformed life on earth. Shortly after the Detonations, when the survivors were still hoping for some form of help to arrive, a cloud of leaflets were released all bearing the same message:

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, benevolently.

As time passes it becomes clear that the Dome is anything but benevolent, even for those who live in it. While the Wretches include mutated forms blended with objects, beasts or even fused into the earth itself, the Pure are subject to genetic enhancements that create their own problems. Several years after the event, the survivors outside the Dome struggle to breathe the ash laden air and have to cope with debris from the explosions embedded in their bodies. Sixteen year old Pressia was holding a doll when the Detonations happened, and now she lives with the doll's head fused to her wrist in place of a hand. Her life is presented in stark contrast to that of Partridge, a boy who lives inside the Dome. His actions transform Pressia's life and lead them both on a journey across the shattered landscape beyond the Dome.

While the twists in the tale that happen on that journey make the book a real page turner, what really kept my interest were the fantastic characters. Visually unique, often quite terrifyingly so, they are complex creations who continue to develop and surprise as the story unfolds. The prevailing mood of the story is very dark, so these vital characters were essential to keeping me reading.

Pure is a young adult crossover novel, mining the same vein as The Hunger Games with resilient young characters fighting against overwhelming odds. A lot of what happens in Pure doesn't stack up very well if you try to assess it as science fiction. It's not magical realism either, so much as magical non-realism: an elaborate, nightmarish fantasy. I kept thinking how apt illustrations by Mervyn Peake or Clive Barker would be for the book, as there were certainly touches of Gormenghast and Abarat in it.

At the very end of the book the author mentions how research for the novel led her to accounts of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She hopes that Pure will direct people to nonfiction accounts of these events which we cannot afford to forget. I found that this was exactly where I turned on completing Pure and suspect that I will not be the only reader who follows her suggestion.

Thank you to the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Further reading suggestions:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Abarat by Clive Barker

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Buy Pure by Julianna Baggott at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pure by Julianna Baggott at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Pure by Julianna Baggott at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pure by Julianna Baggott at Amazon.com.


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