Tuesday 7 February 2012

Reviewed by Jen: Pure by Julianna Baggott

Product details:
Publisher: Headline.
Release date: February 2nd 2012.
Hardcover, 448 pages.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: 13+
Source: Received from publisher for review.
Reviewed by: Jen

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 Belze has lived outside of the Dome ever since the detonations. Struggling for survival she dreams of life inside the safety of the Dome with the 'Pure'.

Partridge, himself a Pure, knows that life inside the Dome, under the strict control of the leaders' regime, isn't as perfect as others think.

Bound by a history that neither can clearly remember, Pressia and Partridge are destined to forge a new world. 

Julianna Baggott’s dystopian novel Pure is a bleak and depressing look at the consequences of nuclear warfare.  Set in a stark world that has been decimated by radiation Pure grotesquely portrays the effects of human arrogance. In a twist on the normal dystopian fare Baggott adds an element of utopia in her story that left me wondering which society is really the lesser of two evils.

The story revolves around the lives of four characters.  Two of the characters, Pressia and El Capitan had the unfortunate luck to have been outside the Dome when the detonations hit the United States nine years earlier.  As a result both are horrifically deformed and trying to survive in a world where animal, earth, and human have melded into one.  Partridge and Lyda were part of the elite society chosen to live in the Dome.  Their parents are members of the medical and scientific community who make up the leaders of Dome society. Although Pure is told from these four points of view Pressia is truly the main character and it is through her story where the worlds of the Pures and the wretcheds finally collide.
Pure was a very intense and exhausting read.  This was not a book that I could get through in a day, or even a week, and I found myself needing breaks from the doom and gloom of the story.  I know that dystopian fiction is not supposed to be bright and sunny, but the melancholy tone of Pure left me disturbed.  I felt that maybe the world Juliana Baggott created is too anchored in the truth.  What would happen if humans survived a nuclear attack?  Would we be able to emerge from our bomb shelters whole and as we were?  Or would we meld together with whatever objects we were closest to at the time of attack?  What would happen to the earth?  Would it be so destroyed that it would take centuries to heal itself?  I found myself asking these questions throughout the book and becoming more frightened by the realism of the situation.  As Pressia described the children born after the detonations I was distracted by the notion of anyone wanting to bring a new life into a world so void of hope.  I think it was all of these things that made it difficult for me to connect with this book.  Pressia’s life was so different from mine that I was unable to relate to her.  One major obstacle for me was the fact that Pressia had the head of a doll melded to her hand where her fist should be.  The doll head is constantly referred to and for some reason really bothered me.  The character I felt the most connection to was Lyda.  After Partridge uses her to escape from the Dome she is left to face the consequences of his actions.  It was easier to connect to Lyda because she was a normal teenager who did something stupid for the boy she had a major crush on.  That I can relate to. 

Pure is a book that should be taken seriously.  It is a warning about what can happen if we allow science and technology to rule our lives.  As the field of DNA technology becomes more advanced it could only be a matter of time before our world leaders attempt to create their own twisted version of Utopia.  The world has already survived one Holocaust, from which we are still healing, the end result of another may only be total destruction. 


  1. Great review! I do want to read this, but now I am not only worried about getting over the fact there is a boy named Partridge (that's just weird) but also there is a girl with a doll head on her wrist? (That's weirder):)

  2. I really like dystopian books, but they can definitely be intense sometimes. I'm really intrigued by this one, it sounds frighteningly realistic. Thanks for the review :).

  3. Wow! Sounds intense! You know, with it being 2012 and hearing all the talk of the world supposedly ending, I think this book might hit a nerve with some people. Though I'm not buying the whole Mayan calendar thing myself, I'm pretty sure that if the world as we know it comes to an end one day, us humans will have been the cause. As much as the human race is capable of doing great things, we're also capable of truly awful things as well.

  4. Awesome review! I'm starting to ponder reading this one after so many non-raved reviews. I think I'll still give it a try...

  5. I liked this one overall, too, although I had some mixed feelings about it. Great review, Leanna!

  6. Fabulous review. Though it sounds like it might take me a while to read. Not sure if I can copy with the doom and gloom either.

  7. Thanks for the great review, Jen! This one does sound like a somewhat harrowing read. Sometimes Dystopians are a bit too gloomy for me, and this one sounds like one that veers on the side of darkness!

  8. Definitely can't wait to start this one! Sounds like you enjoyed it even if it was a hard one to read!!

  9. I have to be honest I do notlike the sound of this one - it would be far too gory for me but terrific review :D

  10. I'm reading this one right now, and I'm a little on the fence. It's very good, but there's something about it that just leaves me cold. I'm not really feeling for any of the characters, and I don't really feel so far (admittedly, only 60 pages in) that there's really much depth to it beyond being a warning. It reminds me a lot of A Canticle for Leibowitz, actually.

    (Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting)

  11. Very thoughtful and insightful review - I completely agree with everything you've said.


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