Friday, February 15, 2013

Pure by Julianna Baggott

At the moment of the Detonations, a searing light flashed across the sky, and Pressia’s hand became fused with the head of the baby doll she was clutching. Everyone became fused with whatever was nearby: shattered glass, dying dogs, children. Strangers. Trees. Pressia and the other survivors subsist in grinding pain amidst the wreckage of the modern world, tyrannized by the OSR, a shadowy government which conducts violent purges and takes children away for an unknown purpose when they turn sixteen.

Inside the Dome, an elite or lucky minority were protected from the Detonations. Called Pure by the fused wretches on the outside, the Dome’s residents watch and wait for a time when the Earth will heal, edible food will grow again, and they will be able to take their place in the world. Partridge is a student in the Dome Academy, and he learns that his mother, who he’d always thought died in the Detonations, may be alive. He plans to find her, no matter what, no matter that only genetically altered Special Forces soldiers ever go Outside.

Pressia is about to turn sixteen. She and her grandfather, who breathes through the blades of a small fan fused in his throat, have a plan to keep her from the OSR. They both secretly know it will never work. She will have to run away, but there’s nowhere to go.

Unbeknownst to Partridge and Pressia, they have something in common. They are part of a larger plan, the plan of a man being eaten alive by his own hubris. Is there anyone he will not crush in his quest to live forever?

In Pure, Baggott paints a truly grotesque apocalypse and shows that all the elements that make up hope, beauty, and love can survive the end of the world. The plotline and the characters are compelling and well-written, making this dystopian novel stand out from the slew published after Hunger Games became so popular. I found that the bizarre and unlikely visuals were best imagined in a noir graphic novel style; otherwise, the fused world is too painful-looking to visit, even in imagination.

The second book in the planned trilogy, Fuse, has just been released and added to our collection.

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