Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review: Pure by Julianna Baggott

Title: Pure
Author: Julianna Baggott
Genre: Dystopian Science-Fiction
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Length: 431 pages
Original Publishing Date: January 1st, 2012
Series: Pure #1
Where I got it: Audiobook from the e-library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

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.

Main characters: 4.5/5

Pressia was a fascinating and intriguing main character. She had a perfect mix of innocence and stubbornness, of childhood and adulthood, of being relatable and being realistic. I loved following her as she learned about her world and about her past.

Partridge, on the other hand, could (somewhat understandably) be annoying. He was exposed to this whole new world outside the dome and had never dealt with most of the difficult things there. He seemed to grow slightly, but I wanted him to become more mature as he grew.

Overall though, I appreciated the slowness with which Baggott introduced the characters and the complexity that she lent to both Partridge and Pressia. I felt like I understood them deeply and they truly made the narrative.

Secondary characters: 4/5

What a rich cast of secondary characters! Bradwell was a satisfying love interest for Pressia. I love how their opinions differed and how Bradwell could sometimes be maddening. Lyda seemed too meek to me. She did grow a backbone as the book went on but the impression stuck and I was never too big of a fan of hers. Finally, El Capitan was complex and such an interesting POV to add to the novel. Although I was ambivalent about including his POV in the story, I ended up really liking it because we found more out about the world that they lived in and about the different interactions between groups.

Writing style: 3.5/5

Here's my problem with Baggott's writing style: I don't particularly love or hate dual-narratives, but I like to know what the plan is. In Baggott's case, we had two main characters who narrate for most of the novel and then some random character's were given chapters with their own POV. I didn't really understand why. Sure, it was interesting to hear another character, but it seemed random when Baggott decided to include El Capitan or Lyda's POVs.

On the plus side, Baggott had incredibly rich visual descriptions. Her writing impeccably communicated the dark and eerie world that Pressia lived in and made me feel like I was there with the characters.

Plot: 5/5 
Disclaimer: I'm a sucker for premises like this. I love apocalypses, dystopian societies, everything about this was my thing.

So, yes. I was definitely into the premise and plot of Pure. I like the idea of the nuclear apocalypse because I've found that it's one that has been declining in popularity (for whatever reason). And the fusing? It made me shudder, but I was also a rapt audience. The darkness of the fusing surpassed most of the dystopian fiction that I've read in the past. The dome aspect is nothing new, but I really appreciated the direction that Baggott took it in. And yes, there is quite a bit of science in this science-fiction/dystopian, but I appreciated it because it gave it the scary possibility that it could be real- something I look for in dystopians.

The plot itself was intriguing and there was a lot to be interested in. There was always something going on or brewing in the background. The secrets and reveals were well done and kept me guessing throughout.

Ending: 3/5

It seemed like the pacing could have been better. A lot happened at the end all at once while sometimes the middle dragged a little bit. I wish that the action had been more evenly spaced. I did like how the story of Pure was resolved, and yet the plotline for the series was introduced. Props to Baggott for ending the first book in the series well (a difficult feat!).

Best scene: All of it (seriously). First learning about the detonation and the fusions was probably the most memorable. I was just shocked. 

Reminded Me Of: Under the Dome meets The Hunger Games

Positives: The depth of the characters, the premise, the action, the visual descriptions

Negatives: The pacing of the ending, the randomness of the POVs

Cover: I get the connection to the story, but I'm not really a fan of the font or the colors or... anything really.

Verdict:  I know dystopian is getting a little old, but Baggott breathes life into this deliciously dark rendition. 

Rating:  8.0 / 10 (5 stars)

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

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