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.
The startling world that Julianna Baggott presents in her gripping post-apocalyptic novel pulled me in and refused to let go. It's the kind of world that truly makes you think about what today's world is capable of because the stark and startling reality is that we are capable of bringing about this type of alternate reality with the push of a button.
This potential for fiction to become reality is really what makes Ms. Baggott's world so mesmerizing--like a wreck that you can't look away from. For me, the best post-apocalyptic novels bring to light the potential for disaster that already exists in our world and this novel did just that. The potential for us to virtually destroy ourselves is an ever-present reality that we may forget on a daily basis. Pure reminds us that it could happen and this world could be the disastrous result. Ms. Baggott's world-building is truly excellent. It will pull you in and allow you to walk around in this fantasy world of Pures and wretches--to see the destruction of nuclear explosions and the world created in their wake.
Baggott's dual narrative threw me for a loop at first. I had trouble finding a rhythm with the switching POVs, but eventually I was so pulled into their stories that I couldn't put the book down. Watching their stories intersect and overlap made the initial disjoint completely worth it because I knew the characters as individuals before their lives intersected. I had a better understanding of the very different lives that each one led and that definitely contributed to my overall sympathy with the characters.
Now you may be wondering, who are these characters? First off we have Pressia--a "wretch" with a doll's head fused to one of her hands who lives outside the Dome with her grandfather. The best way to describe her is this: SURVIVOR. This girl is tough as nails. The connection that I felt with her character was instantaneous. I'm not sure why, but she truly pulled me into the story. Something in her character was simply irresistible. I found myself inside her head and fighting her battles. Partridge was a different story and it took me awhile to truly connect with him--to really figure out what his part was in the bigger scheme of things. His role became quickly apparent and as he developed I found him to be much more sympathetic that at first glance. He definitely revealed himself as a multi-faceted character later on in the novel.
I'm not sure what else to say about Pure at this point. It is a fabulously written YA/adult crossover novel that will appeal to a wide audience. Those accustomed to reading YA post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels should easily fall into Ms. Baggott's world and characters. This book left me breathless and waiting on pins and needles to follow my characters on their continuing journey. I know I will be first in line to buy this book and its sequel when they are released on the world.