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.
This book is so...gross. That's it, that's how I'm going to start this review: this book is gross. And frightening. It's everything Anna Dressed in Blood wishes it was—disgusting and terrifying. I mean, homicidal ghosts? Pshh. That's child's play. But post-apocalyptic life with all the food shortages, diseases, no order, no normalcy, mutants—like really nasty looking mutant-y mutants—and horrible ways to die around every corner? Now that's what I call pants-peeing, nightmare-inducing, huddle-in-corner-crying-out-for-your-momma scary. As far as I'm concerned that's not a bad thing.
Funny thing is, this cover did not in any way prepare me for the demented, never-ending county fair Fun House I entered. I mean, it looks so innocent, doesn't it? All pretty-like with a sophisticated font and gorgeous sapphire-blue butterfly. It looks like a fairly tame book about something fresh and...pure, am I right? Probably something about Soul Mates and rainbows and unicorns. You know, the sort of cutesy idealized thing that typically makes me want to chuck a book across a room.
But it's not.
I figured out there is a reason for that, by the way, the whole innocent-looking-on-the-outside-but-jacked-up-on-the-inside thing this book has going for it, but that's not something I'm going to discuss in this review.
I want to give Pure more stars because, story-wise, it is pretty enjoyable, for the most part. And the gross-out factor is off the charts a-mazing, same goes for the scare factor. But did Julianna Baggott write a five-star worthy read? Not so much. I mean, sure, when it comes to recent YA genre dystopias/post-apocalyptic books Pure is sort of up there with The Hunger Games and Ship Breaker, beating out all of the other competition.
But...truthfully? I wasn't so wholly invested that I was able to overlook all the sciencefail! and believabilityfail! And it's not like I'm one of those people who find it difficult to suspend disbelief. I read plenty of books with ridiculous and often impossible story lines and I'm able to believe those just fine. It's just, for whatever reason, there was much that didn't work for me because the author didn't sell it right or whatever.
For example there is this one character that somehow knows everything about everything, even taught himself how to read Japanese. Keep in mind said character raised himself in a post-apocalyptic hellhole from the time he was nine years old. I mean, come on! The world as we know it has ended, death and destruction and scary mutants are everywhere. And you want me to believe some little kid, who is taking care of himself is like "Gee, I sure miss everything. I think I'll teach myself how to read Japanese because it might actually come in handy some day. You know, since Japanese above all other languages is the one I'm most-likely going to need to know how to read." No! I don't buy it. Orphan be learning how to fend for himself in a cruel every-mutant-for-himself world, not teaching himself how to read Japanese OR study nanotechnology in-depth.
And at no point during this book did I learn how our world got from how things are today to some crazy-go-nuts uber-religous society that shuns modern feminism in favor of some brand of not-feminist feminism to eventually blowing itself to high hell. This bugs me.
If I were to be completely honest, for whatever reason I couldn't stop thinking about one of my favorite children's books of all time while I was reading Pure. It's called Everyone is Different. If you don't know what I'm talking about go read it, I'll wait right here.
Are you done? Great book, right?
Pure is pretty much the same as Everyone is Different. I mean, you know, basically. Maybe there isn't any squirrel-handedness going on in Pure but there sure is a lot of doll-head-handedness and bird-backedness going on. Instead of characters being fangoriously devoured by a gelatinous beast there's a lot of characters being fangoriously devoured by dust-beasts and other such mutants. There are weird names, like Partridge and Pressia and El Capitan. Some characters are tall and merciless. Some characters are about to be hit by cars and other characters who have rigged the "enemy base" with explosives. There may even be a point in which no two characters are not on fire. And yes, in this book everyone is different.
I wish I could give this book four or five stars, but I can't. That said, I still do like it and I'm going to recommend it to anyone looking for a post-apocalyptic read. Three stars.