From the back of the book: 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.
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.
Pure, which seems to increasingly be recommended to fans of Hunger Games, is a novel with a familiar end-of-the-world premise. It's definitely dystopian, but apocalyptic as well...and yes, those two genres really seem to saturate the Young Adult shelves lately. However, Pure sets itself apart from other similar novels in the genre with a small but powerful twist--during the detonations that destroyed the world, people became permanently fused to whatever they were holding or standing next to at the time. Mothers have children permanently fused to their hips. Others were fused to high-rise skyscrapers. Others still were fused to the dirt itself. Pressia, one of Pure's protagonists, now has a hand that is made up of the head of a baby doll. Her grandfather, who was holding a small fan at the time of the detonations, has a fan embedded in his throat, which wheezes away with every inhale and exhale of breath. The images of these "wretches" are both stunning and terrifying all at once.
Billed as the first of three novels, Pure is in many ways darker than some of the novels that I've seen it compared to--I can see the reason that many people compare Pure to Hunger Games, but I also think that the world Baggott has crafted in Pure is much darker, much more corrupted, and much more abysmal. There are no easy solutions or paths to redemption in Pure, and nearly every character experiences grave loss. While there is a bit of a romance, it felt like a minor sub-plot rather than a major one--it almost got lost in the darkness of the world, and had it been absent altogether, I'm not sure I would have noticed.
Still, it was both captivating and haunting. Even in the midst of terror and destruction, there was something human that peeked through and made me relate to and care about the characters, flaws and all. And in my book, that's what makes a great novel. Overall, I'm excited to see where Baggott takes the story in the second book and would definitely recommend it to lovers of dystopian and apocalyptic fiction!
Disclosure Statement: I was provided with a free copy of this book to review through my NetGalley membership. My review itself is provided to the publisher, but is not a paid review. As always, all opinions are my own--I don't think I could lie about a book even if I wanted to!