Book info

Pure (2012)

Pure (2012)
Rating
3.75 of 5 Votes: 1
ISBN
1455503061 (ISBN13: 9781455503063)
languge
English
series
publisher
grand central publishing
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Pure (2012)
Pure (2012)

About book: Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .When I was a teenager I uncovered a photo album in my grandparent’s house, tucked into the back of a cabinet, dusty and long neglected under stacks of hoarded papers. The album was full of pictures taken in Japan, where my grandfather had been stationed after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of WWII. It was like looking at stills from a black and white horror film – destruction on a scale I had never seen before, fragments of the devastation captured on paper and stuck into a book. Prior to this, I had known nothing of this part of his life. It was verboten within the family. And turning those yellow pages, I think I began to understand in a very small way part of why he wanted to silence and forget this time of suffering - both for those who were lost and those who survived. But I doubt he ever will, or even can. I mention this because of a statement Julianna Baggott makes in the acknowledgements of Pure around her research, which took in accounts of the atomic bombings and their effects. It’s a sentiment with which I think her character Bradwell would concur: there are horrors we cannot afford to forget.While much of Pure reads like it was spilled from the darkest corners of subconsciousness into a grotesque and unsettling nightmare world, elements of this story are firmly anchored in our own reality, the shadowed parts of our history. Beneath the richly realised post-apocalyptic setting, this is a thematically resonant, futuristic story that echoes our not too distant past.“Dome fiction” is not certainly not a new concept and Pure does not attempt to revolutionise the premise of a select few living in cloistered privilege while the outside world ekes out a life exposed to the (usually hellish) elements. What Pure does do is construct a uniquely disturbing and sinister world, almost dream-like in its surreal elements, maintaining a sense of unease as the reader plunges deeper into the story.There is an atmosphere to this book unlike any I’ve read before: the familiar and the frightening are crushed together into a bizarre symbiosis. The people of this world are similarly affected: horrifically burned, scarred and fused with objects both animate and inanimate, some forced together with other people into irreversible codependence, some enmeshed with animals beyond identification. After the cataclysmic Detonations, the world is startlingly foreign, yet also vaguely recognizable in places. The pervasive, unsettling tone that results is one of Pure’s strongest points, in my opinion.The plot of Pure revolves around two of the central characters, Pressia – a “wretch” with a doll’s head for a hand, and Patridge – a “Pure” from an influential dome family, coming into contact with each other and the repercussions for their vastly different lives. Raised on opposite sides of the dome, their understanding of their own worlds are challenged, and neither will remain unchanged. Pure is (another) multiple viewpoint book, the perspective shuffling through four different third-person vantage points. Honestly, I do not love multiple viewpoint books. I generally find the shifts cumbersome, not always adding much in the way of tone or texture to the story. However, I make an exception here, because while I still was not completely taken with the number of viewpoint characters, I didn’t find it detracted from the story being told. I felt invested in all of the characters, so I didn’t mind when a different person took up the narrative. What makes a “tough” heroine has been discussed at length elsewhere, but as I read Pure I was struck by how Pressia’s strength was developed and expressed. While not physically imposing, athletically gifted, or particularly bold, Pressia’s tenacity in the face of fear and personal doubts were rather moving. My investment in Pressia grew steadily as I read, and I found myself afraid for her, proud of her, even tearing up for her. While it developed more slowly, I found myself similarly attached to Bradwell. Initially, he was a character I found remote, even slightly repellent. By the end, I felt oddly concerned and fiercely protective over this blunt young man and what he represented. I feel that Pure’s largest weakness lay in the occasional over-neatness of the plot. There are a few too many instances of characters who happen to be in just the right place, who conveniently show up in the nick of time, who land in exactly the right spot, who know exactly what to do and where to go. Some segments of the story dovetail a little too neatly to be entirely believable, and the difficulties one would reasonably expect to arise are occasionally glossed over to progress the story. In a similar vein, there are a couple of scenes that read awkwardly to me, given the physical condition of the characters. It was distracting at times when the actions they were described taking seemed at odds with what they appeared to be capable off. (view spoiler)[I spent what is probably a disproportionate amount of time trying to work out the logistics of Bradwell and the birds in his back, for example, and fearing that the poor birds were getting squashed. (hide spoiler)]

Ten years ago, atomic bombs destroyed the world, leaving two groups of survivors: those maimed, burned, and horrifically deformed by the fire and radiation; and ‘Pures’—a lucky and select group who escaped the explosions unharmed, safely tucked away in a massive glass bubble called The Dome.Pressia survived the explosions outside. Life is hard, food is scarce, and Pressia is nearing her sixteenth birthday—the time when she will be drafted for military service with OSR. She’ll be forced to kill, or be used as target practice.Partridge escaped the Detonations unscathed, safely tucked away in the Dome, which is more or less ruled by his cold and distant father. His mother and brother dead, Partridge doesn’t quite fit in with the other boys and people of the Dome. He has an independent streak that is dangerous in such a controlled community, and when a slip of the tongue from his father suggests his mother may still be alive—outside—Partridge decides to escape.As a series of coincidences drive Pressia and Partridge together, they must fight together to survive... but who are they fighting? Who’s the enemy? The pieces start to come together into a much, much bigger picture, as the two discover their lives are more closely intertwined than they could have imagined.P1 & P2:Pure is told (mainly) through the shifting POV of Pressia and Partridge. They’ve both suffered, and both of their lives were long ago stripped down to one defining purpose: survival. But they both seemed very naive, and very young.When Partridge escapes the Dome, we see through his eyes, and it gives the reader a lens of relatability. And I tell you what, I needed that lens, as Pressia, for me, felt  detached, cold and aloof. She needs to be to survive—but it made her hard to relate to. In this, she reminded me a lot of an early-era Obernewtyn Elspeth. And this book started moving at about the same pace. Read: glacial. Which brings me to:I love the cold, but this is ridiculous:Pure gets off to a VERY slow start. While Baggot had me enthralled with her achingly beautiful prose and vividly imagined world, it seemed as though very little actually happened. So much of the book was spent setting up the world, the politics, the characters; but little happened with them. I suspect book two will feature more action, but the gorgeous prose quickly lost its appeal and grew flowery, leavimg me agitated and impatient for the book to get on with it.Squick!I struggled with the descriptions of the bizarre physical deformities of the Detonation survivors. They’ve become fused with objects, other people or animals, and it left me squirming. While the healthy and whole people running the Dome are deliberately subjecting their children to procedures designed to genetically alter them for strength, intelligence or obeisance, the survivors outside struggle with mutations that will eventually kill them. It’s creepy and sinister. This isn’t a criticism of Pure, rather, it’s praise: Baggot is uncompromising in presenting the uncomfortable truth of survival in this world, but it’s no less hard to read.Seriously?Pure is peppered with implausible coincidences, yet the plot wouldn’t make sense without them. The whole storyline is held together by a thread so thin it constantly threatened to break. This is meant to be set in a large city, right? Yet Pressia, Partridge and co keep stumbling across people, places, clues or objects from the past to help them on their way, and I kept thinking ‘yeah, right.’ Finding familiar places or people from ‘the before’ over a place that size, in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, with so many people dead is hugely unlikely.The Verdict:Julianna Baggot creates a disturbing world in Pure, too close and familiar to our own to be comfortable. It’s an uncompromising picture of what humanity is capable of, and I hated it, because I could actually believe it—but I didn’t want to. Yet, while Pure is packed with fights, flight and conspiracy, lengthy descriptions and sparse, sometimes stiff, dialogue made it feel very slow.Pure deserves the praise it’s garnered. It’s beautifully written, frightening, intensely emotive, and well thought out and researched. It’s so many amazing things, bundled into what should be an amazing book—but I didn’t enjoy reading it. I struggled through all bar sixty-odd pages of it, and it had a rather open, unstatisfying ending. Turning the final page I was left feeling sad, emotionally drained, but mainly just relieved it was over. Nevertheless, Pure will appeal to lovers of dystopian fiction—especially fans of Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn. It just wasn't for me.To be fair: if I was to rate this book completely objectively, based on writing, world building, imagination and execution, it would deserve 4 stars. I’ve decided to rate based on my enjoyment of it... and I struggled with this book. So, forgive me, but: 2 stars.Pure was kindly provided by Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Thanks you guys!
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Reviews
Krystle
This book was excruciatingly torturous to read. I took forever to finish this book. In fact, it took me over a month to read this whole thing and I wanted to drop it more than a dozen times but I just had to persevere because I’ve become lazy and have dropped too many books recently. If you know me, you know that I read at a fairly rapid rate, finishing a book (if I don’t jump around) in about two or three days if time allows. Well, the length of time is explanatory itself.Pure was just so dull and draggy. There was a flash of interest in the first fifty pages or so (maybe it was less) and then it became a mind numbing test of endurance. Long scenes were thinly connected by an almost invisibly thread for a barely there plot. In fact, most of the things that happened jumped around without so much as a transition or apparent connection to the plot. I think this is in due part to the writing. It was lacking urgency, life, and spark. Sure, there were some great descriptions and poignant lines but it all just flew over your head in the context of everything. There was nothing driving the story forward and because of this you didn’t connect with any of the characters. That’s not to say they were bad. They were all right, I guess. None of them were pathetic, passive, and ineffective losers but I just really didn’t care about any of them. It didn’t help that the book employed the multiple pov method, where each chapter or some chapters were told from other characters. It was too many, too often, and made everything way too jumpy.By the time the ending came around all I could do was express and exhilarating scream of relief and took a hefty nap to celebrate. Naps, ftw!The premise and world building of this book was fabulous, though. So I’m really disappointed by that. It’s clear the author did a lot of research and spent a lot of time thoroughly inventing all aspects of her world which a lot of dystopian novels nowadays don’t take account for. I’m just sad the story didn’t live up to it. The plot twists were surprising too but my lack of interest in the book merely left with a raised eyebrow than the wow reaction I’m sure this is supposed to garner.Pure tackles a lot of dark things and there is some really weird stuff in it. Like the whole deformities and people fusing to animals and things. There’s that whole manipulation of genetics in their coveted domed world of protection and safety. You know, weeding out the unwanteds from the wanted, which they did to the people outside the dome originally by dropping nuclear bombs on them but are now doing it to themselves. Scary stuff. Such great ideas but let down by the inadequate execution.
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
Pure was deliciously dark and twisted, but to me, it just wasn’t good enough. Three women step out – all fused – a tangle of cloth hiding their engorged middle. Parts of each face seem to be shiny and stiff as if fused with plastic. Groupies, that’s what they’re called. One of the women has sloped shoulders, a curved spine. There are many arms, some pale and freckled, the others dark. It took me about 120 pages to really get into this book – much more than it should have, of course. I always struggle with dystopias at first, but it’s usually for two or three chapters, not more than that. The beginning was very slow, and although I understand the need to build the atmosphere, especially in a book whose main goal seems to be to shock and repulse, I felt that it should have been done gradually, or at least differently. As much as I appreciated (though not enjoyed) the descriptions of people fused with objects or other people, I couldn’t help but wonder if that’s all I would ever get. Fortunately, things started moving just a little faster after those 120 pages, but Baggott still kept pressing the “pause” button on her action scenes in order to describe every little thing her characters came across. Everyone who knows me at least a little bit knows that I’m a big fan of descriptive writing when it serves to evoke a wide palette of emotion. My problem with Pure was that it aimed to evoke only one - disgust. After a hundred pages or so, it became extremely tiresome. The story is told from multiple points of view. Oddly enough, the one I preferred, the one I could easily identify with, was neither Pressia nor Partridge, it was Lyda, the girl Partridge sort of liked, but mostly just used to get out of the Dome. I eventually started liking Partridge too, even though that took a while, but Pressia never really came alive for me. I still have no idea who she really is and how I’m supposed to feel about her. I would have loved to know more about the creatures she made to trade them on the market, but the one thing I wanted described in detail was just mentioned once or twice in passing. As far as I’m concerned, the most important thing in a dystopian/post-apocalyptic novel isn’t the romance, the action, or even the writing – it’s social structure. You can be the most skilled writer on the planet, but if your society isn’t convincing enough, you will lose my interest before you can say ‘write a better book’. For me, this is where Baggott failed the most- I wanted to know more – more about the government on both sides (but more outside the Dome), about how it all came to be, and especially about the day when the world went to hell in a handbasket. I want to know how Partridge’s father became the most important person in the world, the only real decision maker. Where were the old governments? Who exactly pulled the strings ever since Partridge’s parents were young? Instead of focusing on endless descriptions of Groupies and Dusts, I would have liked to see at least some of those questions answered. Unfortunately, the little information I was offered wasn’t nearly believable enough.That doesn’t mean that Pure was all bad. There were things I liked a lot, especially the fact that it managed to surprise me a few times. In a genre where predictability is accepted and even expected, Baggott somehow included quite a few twists and turns that I never saw coming. I think I would have liked Pure more if it were about a hundred pages shorter. It had its moments and I believe I will read book 2 when it comes out, but unfortunately, this one left a lot to be desired.Favorite quote: She glances back before stepping into the alley, and she catches her grandfather looking at her the way he does sometimes – as if she’s already gone, as if he’s practicing sorrow.For this review and more, please visit The Nocturnal Library
Trudi
This book is dark. It is disturbing. It is ruthless in places and feels dangerous in others. Despite the fact that Pure has been released by its publisher as Adult fiction, it has been quickly embraced as YA. Though I feel as such, it should maybe come with some sort of disclaimer. Fans of popularized YA dystopias choosing Pure for the same satisfying adrenaline injection packaged in a safe, sanitized story with a sweet romantic subplot are likely going to be put off (even repulsed) over what they encounter here. Furthermore, the conscientious detail in the world-building will seem heavy-handed to readers seeking a fast-moving thrill ride. Pure does not give up its secrets easily or all at once. Not all loose ends are tied up, not all questions are answered. There’s enough juiciness and potential left over for the sequel. At least this is my hope – because I’m hooked now and want to know everything. There is such heartrending beauty in Baggott’s vivid descriptions of Earth’s utter destruction and the devastating deformities of the survivors. I will never think of the word “fusion” the same way again. At the height of the Cold War, an entire generation of people lived with the mind-numbing fear of nuclear annihilation. It’s a fear that’s largely left us now, though I’m hard pressed to think why; the weapons still exist and there are still enough crazy mofos out there, in charge or gone rogue, to make use of them if they so choose. Even the most cursory research into the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will chill the blood and horrify the mind. This is what we are capable of doing to one another. To think that it can’t or won’t ever happen again is wishful thinking I figure of the most deluded kind. But I am grateful we've stopped crouching under desks and building bomb shelters in our spare time. That shit just ain't healthy, you know?Pressia is a survivor of the Detonations – a global nuclear holocaust that has left her and every other survivor with a diversity of glaring malformations and “fusions”. When the blasts came, they were so strong, the light so bright, humans fused with whatever material closest to them at the time of the explosion, whether it be inanimate, human or animal. Pressia, a child at the time, held her favorite doll and now carries the mark of that day in her doll’s head hand. Such external deformities are a physical manifestation of the pain and loss carried by all survivors, whose souls have surely been burned and scarred just as severely as their bodies. There are other survivors of the Detonations however – Pures – who have been safely harbored in the Dome. These are the select privileged, protected, their skin perfect. But the Dome has its secrets too, and while the wretches outside the Dome have been busy surviving, those inside the Dome have been watching, and waiting, with a plan of their own. This was a convincing world to me that left me wanting to know more about everything. The characters are strong and there without coming across as overly sentimental. It takes a while to get to know them, and it takes even longer to warm up to them and start to care. I really enjoyed that slow build. In no way could Pure be labeled a shocking or controversial novel; however, there were several scenes that jolted me, and if you can surprise me in that way where I flinch or my mouth gapes open, I figure you are doing something right. This book has been called "cinematic" and it is a very visual novel (I'm also not surprised to find out that Hollywood has already come a-courting). Parts of the Dustlands and Meltlands even reminded me of Stephen King's Dark Tower landscape (and that is high praise indeed).What more can I say? If you are looking for a meatier dystopian read with teeth then this is the book for you.
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