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.
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published February 8th 2012 by Grand Central Publishing
Three and a half stars: This book takes you to a dark ravaged existence after a nuclear apocalypse.
Pressia adjusts the ratty sock that covers the doll head fused to her hand, as she hurries down the dark alley, anxious to get home to her ailing grandfather. She glances up at the darkened sky. Everywhere there is swirling ash and dust. It is a landscape devoid of color, everything is black, grey and dirty. The world is one of decay, ash, scars and death. Pressia, is among the many survivors, who desperately cling to life in a hopeless, ruined world. Years ago the Detonations hit, wreaking nuclear chaos on the world. Those who survived the destruction are marked with the burdens of unspeakable loss, twisted scars and strange deformities, such as fusion. Items that people were touching when the radiation struck are forever glued to their bodies. People are joined to everyday things or even more awful each other or animals, along with glass and debris. Life is a struggle, but not for the Pures. A large dome sits not far from the devastated where Pressia resides. The Dome contains the people who were lucky enough to escape to the safe confines of the protected environment before the blasts. They live in a clean, microcosm environment, free from the demolished world. They are Pure, unmarked by scars and fusions. They should be content, tucked away in their sterile existence, but for some it feels like being a trapped butterfly in a glass jar. Forced to follow the rules and rigid structure of the leaders, many long for freedom. The wretched survivors want to enter into the pure world, while the Pures wish to be free. What will happen when the two worlds collide?
What I Liked:
- The dystopian world building in this book is astonishing. Ms. Baggot does an amazing job of creating a land decimated by a nuclear explosion. The destruction is intense from the dark rubble of the city to the melted landscapes and out to the dust fields, filled with the creatures called the Dusts. Then add in the grotesque deformities of the survivors, each new encounter more shocking than the last. There are people with animals, birds and dogs, stuck to them. Others have children merged to their arms, legs or backs. Then there are the ones known as Groupies, where several people are joined together. If you are a fan of the dark, dystopian settings then you will love the world of Pure.
- I liked the character of Pressia. She is a sixteen year girl, with a doll head melted to her hand. She is a tough, determined survivor. I loved her spirit and her compassion and her ability to find and create beauty in her ruined world. Several times in the book she is willing to sacrifice herself to try and save another, even complete strangers. An admirable characteristic, especially for someone living in a world of survival of the fittest.
- This book is full of surprises and twists and turns. I never knew what was coming, the story kept me guessing. One of my favorite aspects was not knowing for sure who are the good guys and bad guys. My first impressions of characters was erroneous on several occasion. I was surprised numerous times by actions of the players.
- I like reading books where I can draw comparisons to events in the real world. This is a book that shows what happens when an individual(s) is corrupted by visions of grandeur and power. A heart darkened by blackness and evil touches the world and leaves an indelible stain of vile poison across the landscape. While reading this book I couldn't help making comparisons to Hitler and his storm of destruction. The scenes where the OSR hunts down people reminded me of the Nazi Storm Troopers in their black boots hunting the Jews. This book is a chilling reminder of the malicious capabilities of humans. I also liked the mentions of the aftermath of the Japanese atomic bombing in World War II. I wondered if there was any real life basis for the fusions in the book.
- Even though this book is dark and has many scenes of disturbing violence, the author presents a tiny flicker of hope. There are small acts of kindness and sacrifice by the characters, that show that mankind is capable of salvation.
And The Not So Much:
- There were several instances in the book where I felt certain outcomes were a bit too convenient and they came across as unrealistic.
- The two romantic relationships didn't work for me because it feels like they just appear out of nowhere. There a few tiny hints but then it just skips over the developmental portions and moves into a romance. I would like to have more detail and explanation on the feelings that move toward a love interest.
- I enjoyed the story line and plot movement but as I neared the end of the book, I knew by the diminishing pages that this story was not going to wrap up in a satisfactory manner. There were too many plot lines left dangling and even new ones introduced. I found myself just getting irritated because I knew I was going to be left disappointed. The book doesn't leave your with a cruel cliffhanger but it just ends without much resolution at all.
- I was not thrilled with the switching point views. I liked the dual perspectives of Patridge and Pressia but when the author added in two additional voices, Lyda and El Captain I was not happy. Lyda and El Captain are secondary characters without much involvement. To suddenly have the narration shift to their view points was distracting and I found myself wanting to get back to Pressia's voice.
- I was not completely satisfied with the explanations behind the motives for the creation of the Dome and the Detonations, I felt that there was some holes and missing information.
Pure is a book that will linger in your thoughts upon completion. Its dark, twisted cruel landscape and inhabitants will certainly leave an impression on you. It is a book that shows the maniacal and destructive capabilities of the human race. Yet, like a butterfly breaking from a cocoon, there is also hope for the future and the goodness of humanity. If you are looking for an adult dystopian novel, then I recommend you delve into the world of Pure.
"...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."
"She finds little moments of beauty everywhere---even in the ugliness. The heaviness of the clouds draping across the sky, sometimes edged dark blue. There's still dew that rises from the ground and beads up on pieces of the blackened glass."
"Even though she doesn't remember them in any whole way, she remembers the feel of her body being enveloped by her mother---the softness of her body, the silkiness of her hair, the sweetness of her scent, the warmth. When her father wrapped her in his coat, she felt cocooned."
"I remember the ugliness is what makes the beautiful things beautiful....---one can't truly exist without the other."
"He's dealing in dangerous ideas, throwing around God and sin to benefit the powerful because he wants to be more powerful."
"Acquired taste? Pressia isn't sure what the term means, but she loves it. A taste is something that you can acquire? She'd love to simply be fed anything regularly enough to acquire a taste."
"Is this the way the world works---endless taking and giving? It's cruel."
"His mother's voice is like a small slip of fabric that rustles lightly in his mind;"
"The sky is a bruise. Only a storm will heal it."
A review copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Grand Central Publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.