Published February 8th 2012 by Grand Central Publishing
Quoted from GoodReads:
"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."
I am developing a love-hate relationship with books that are part of a series. I love that the story continues and that I get to visit some of my favorite characters again, but I hate waiting for the other books to come out. I want instant gratification! I do not want to wait to see what happens!
OK, now that I got that out of my system, I can proceed to the book review....
There seems to be a lot of debates out there about the genre that this book falls into. Is it YA or adult dystopian or is it a "crossover"?? When I was growing up we only had two genres, fiction and non-fiction. I don't really think it matters what genre you place this book in. I read what I like. And I liked Pure.
Now, not everyone is going to agree with me about this book (no matter what their age is). Which is part of why I liked it. This a dark, dark world. It's not a happy place to be. There is very little romance and the heroine is not beautiful, kind and brilliant. This is a world that the conspiracy theorists will love! This book is refreshingly different from anything I have read recently.
The story is told from multiple characters view points. The writing was so well done, that I hardly noticed this until after I was finished with the book. Usually I have to stop and re-read pages of books that are written in this manner and I find it confusing and distracting. The author, Julianna Baggott makes the transition between characters seamless. Overall, it is a beautifully written novel. ( I didn't have the urge to grab my red pen and correct grammar and sentence structure once!)
This is a world where the people of influence, power and wealth have isolated them selves from the rest of the population. Instead of a gated community and exclusive country club, they built a self contained Dome and plotted to destroy the rest of the population. They are the "Pures". Hitler and his Aryan race come to mind about now. This political undertone continues to be just barely submerged beneath the surface of the plot.
The bombs are detonated. The people outside the dome suffer but continue to survive in their damaged world. Instead of the genetic experiments and concentration camps of the Holocaust, the detonations were engineered to destroy and create genetic mutations. People fused with whatever objects they happened to be near at the time. The results are so bizarre and deeply disturbing that it adds a surreal feeling to the book, an almost "nightmarish" feeling of horror that persists throughout the book. This is where the book begins.
These mutated characters are fascinating, yet repulsive. Pressia is the "heroine" of this tale, but as I mentioned above, is not your typical heroine. She has mutations like all of the others, but I found hers to be particularly freakish. Despite this, Pressia is resilient and resourceful. She evolves as the book progresses and becomes stronger even though she is discovering some horrific facts about her life pre-detonation.
Not a lot of action takes place in beginning chapters. But the author uses this part of the book to vividly describes the world and it's inhabitants. The pace of the book picks up in the second half of the story. The first half didn't drag, but there was a tremendous amount of world building and detailed description needed to set the tone of this world. It is worth the wait.
When I read the first book of a series, I try to treat it as a prologue to the rest of the series. There will be unanswered questions and parts of the plot that are not resolved. I have to remind myself of this as I get near the end of the book and everything is not neatly resolved. (back to the love-hate thing...) But, I am ready for more! I need to know what happens!
As dark as this story is, I didn't find it depressing. At the end you are left with a little glimmer of hope for the main characters and their world.
P.S. The book cover art is beautiful and intriguing!
Thanks to Netgalley and the author for allowing me the opportunity to read and provide an honest review this book.