Pure (Pure #1) - Julianna Baggott
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
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. (Description from Goodreads)
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I didn't know much about this book and series before I started reading it, other than a work mate loved and that the tagline said fans of The Hunger Games would enjoy the series. I'm always nervous about recommendations like that, with strong comparisons to BIG book franchises; but I LOVED this book! It wasn't perfect, but it was an addictive, on-the-edge-of-my-seat, action-packed story. One of the best dystopian/sci-fi novels I've read in a while.
We start the story with an introduction to the changed world Pure is set in. An atomic explosion has rocked the world, causing surviving humans to fuse with living and inanimate objects - dolls, birds, other humans, cars - anything they were connected to at the time of the explosion. These changes alone would have made for an interesting storyline, but not all humans faced the Detonations. Some were saving in a Dome structure set to regulate air and sustain human life. These people were protected from fusing to objects and are known as The Pure - not a single defect on them. There was so much potential drama between these two settings that my heart was soaring. Rebellion? War? Forbidden love? I couldn't decide which one I was hoping to see. In the end, rebellion and war were the one's that won out for me, especially because my chosen relationship occurred outside the Dome and Pure sphere.
This book was a perfect example of when third person stories work so well. Out two main characters - Pressia (a girl from outside the Dome) and Partridge (a boy 'lucky' enough to be saved by the Dome) - both have equal POV page time, showing life on the outside, the twisted system inside the Dome and the clash of worlds when these two meet. There are a couple of other POV changes throughout the story, which at times weren't really necessary, but it all worked out ok for me. I loved having these two voices and views - they were strong, detailed and made it easy to fall into their world. And what I loved more was that there was not even a speck of romance hinted between them. I'll admit, I worried at the start that there might be, especially when I decided - long before there was any obvious chemistry and before Pressia and Partridge me - that I wanted Pressia to end up with the courageous, intelligent and loyal Bradwell, another boy from outside the Dome with birds fused into his back.
But relationships aside - because they were actually a minor part of the story - I loved the action in Pure. We're introduced to the idea of a militia group on the outside, intent on recruiting any 16 year old kid and turning them into soldiers to fight against the Pure. But a twist midway through the book turns everything on it's head and we find out not everything about the Dome is quite what Pressia or Partridge have been led to believe. And now it's time to fight against the Dome - there was just so much action!
My only complaints were that some of the plot-points popped up out of nowhere. We're not told exactly what time the story is set in. You assume it's a bit in the future, because Children were being chipped with tracking devices and biotechnology developments were a lot bigger than I expect they're at now (not that I would really know). It was all a bit uncertain where the story was placed in terms of our own timeline. Pressia, Bradwell and Partridge were also very quick to figure out important changes for the story. They would have no clue what their next move should be, but someone would say one word and suddenly all doors were open again - and everything was explained like it was obvious, even though it was completely unknown 2 sentences ago. But this didn't stop me from loving the book.
I'm so happy the third book was just been released, because it means I can get my hands on books 2 and 3 as soon as I can. Looking forward to it!
(Also posted on Goodreads)