Pure by Julianna Baggott has been available for the past couple of months, and thanks to my misguided attempts to diversify, has gone largely unnoticed amongst my readers. Pure is yet another of those post-apocalyptic books where society has been split apart by war (in this book, the Detonations), with some members of the population secluded within a rigidly controlled, sterile environment and others, outside, starving in what remains of a world that no longer really exists. While this is not an unfamiliar premise in the least, what sets apart Pure from the other novels of similar vein is fusing. Those who live on the outside under an autocratic rule, with little food, and much fear are fused; meaning that during the Detonations (nuclear strikes), some were horribly scarred and disfigured, and others became fused with the environment surrounding them. Mothers became fused with their children—children who are never capable of physically growing, forever tied to their mothers arms, one boy has a flock of birds fused to his back, another is forever fused with the desert floor to become a monster of the worst and most frightening proportions, and our heroine, Pressia has a hand fused to a baby doll—its blinking eyes forever attached to what was once a hand. It is only those within the domed autocratic society that are unmaimed, or rather, “pure”. When Partridge, a pure with the highest of lineages, escapes the confines of the domed society in an effort to find the truth of his brother’s suicide and his father’s machinations, he discovers Pressia and her world of survivors. It is there that the two, along with an unlikely band of fused, uncover a plot and connections between Partridge and Pressia that take them all into a danger beyond their wildest imaginings.
What seems at first glance to be an absurd plot with a concept that could easily become cheesy and idiotic, is in actuality a brilliant use of imagination. The fusing is described in such a way that it actually makes sense from a scientific angle (at least for a layperson), and the fuses themselves—whether they are alive, like the children or birds, or inanimate like Pressia’s doll head—are almost characters in themselves, as Baggott makes clever use of them throughout this first book in, what is to be a series. It’s actually amazing how such a seemingly odd, and possibly ruinous plot point ends up “making” the story and when genetic manipulation, paramilitary groups, authoritarianism , and revolution are thrown into the mix, readers can’t help but become engrossed.
I won’t say that if you read one genre book this year, Pure is the one to read—there are too many well-written vehicles out or about to be released, but I will say, that should you choose to partake, Pure is one to give more than a second glance to.
For a bit of entertainment, check out the book trailer below.
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