Friday, January 27, 2012

Review: Pure by Julianna Baggott

Title: Pure
Author: Julianna Baggott
Genre: Older YA, dystopian, dark, gritty, slight romance
Star Rating: 2/5 stars

Taken 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. 

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. 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."

A friend of mine mentioned 'Pure' to me a while back.  Supposedly, it was the talk of the town at a book expo she attended.  Because of that, I decided to take a stab at reading this novel by Julianna Baggott.  Let me tell you first that I, personally, think this novel is best suited to older YA readers.  It's a dark read and might not please the younger YA set, even if they liked 'The Hunger Games'.

The Negatives:

As far as page count goes, this book was *way* too long.  It took me 300 pages (almost exactly) to get to a point where I cared about the story and even then, I wasn't too overly invested in the plot or characters.  Part of my trouble with 'Pure' was the voice.  I can count on one hand the number of books I've enjoyed that are in present tense.  My mind was auto-correcting to past tense throughout the entire novel.  As you can only imagine, that made it really hard to get 'sucked in'.  I finished this book not because I was on the edge of my seat, but because I had pushed through hundreds of pages and felt I needed to at least see the story through.

Pressia lives in a world where people are fused with objects.  You'll walk down the street and see a girl with a dolls head fused to her hand, a man with a fan in his throat, or even a boy with birds stuck to his back.  There were some cring-worthy and shocking combinations described in 'Pure', not all of them easy to grasp.  That was the most difficult part to understand about Pressia's world.

Also, purely subjective, I was a little turned off by how dark the novel was.  I'm okay with dark, but usually like a little happy mixed in.  I'm not talking a musical number, but something-- some little ray of hope.  I didn't get any of that in this novel.  I finished it feeling a lot like I did when I read 'Mockingjay'. 'Pure' started on one note and kind of continued on that same note.  The one tone storytelling made for a pretty lackluster finale.

The Positives:

Who could resist this cover?  The colors, font, and design are just perfect.

As far as characters, I enjoyed them well enough.  Pressia was the most likable character of the bunch, followed by Bradwell, Lyda, and then Partridge.  Lyda's character wasn't explored in much detail, though she plays a major role in 'Pure'.  Still, however, she has more personality than Partridge.  If I were to choose my favorite character, the award would go to Bradwell.  He came off a little flat to me, but you know what, he seemed like a cool guy.  He and Pressia's banter in his butcher shop early on in the book was probably my favorite part of the novel.

Each chapter was told in a certain persons point of view.  Unlike some authors, Baggott didn't try to stick to a pattern.  Personally, I prefer that.  Some novels I've read have had alternating characters point of view and because of that, events felt a little forced.  While some of the events in this novel did seem a bit, er, contrived, the fact that the point of view didn't change in a pattern helped a bit.


I like dystopian novels.  I've read 'Matched', 'The Hunger Games', 'Legacy', and quite enjoyed them. However, 'Pure' just wasn't my kind of book.  I didn't finish wanting to read more or even looking forward to the sequel.  If you like gritty, dark worlds, you may like this novel.  It just wasn't my cup of tea.

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