Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Review: Pure by Julianna Baggott

This book has the impact of an atomic blast balanced with the subtle force of germ warfare.

The Detonations destroyed the world as it was; what has survived is utterly changed from the Before.  Groupies roam the streets turning their many eyes in search of victims, OSR takes anyone over the age of 16 to be either soldier or cannon-fodder, and altered strange amalgamations of animal, plant and mineral wait for the unwary.  Above the turmoil of the outside sits the Dome, a haven where the Pures where protected from the blasts and where they wait for the Earth to renew itself.  Pressia has just turned 16 and the OSR is coming for her; but she does not want to kill or be killed and, in running, puts herself on an even more dangerous path.

Baggott has crafted a gritty, dirty, painfully real world where survival is a struggle and life is anything but ordinary.  Characters are wonderfully scarred both physically and mentally with all the accompanying emotional hangups.  Somehow Baggott has created characters who are both more and less human, but who epitomise the human condition.  The plot takes a while to develop so it is the characters that truly draw the reader in and sneak themselves into brain and heart.  I found myself thinking about Pressia's world often between readings, wondering what life would be like after the bombs drop.  Would it be better to die in the blast?  Or survive as something far different than you were before?  Would your values remain?

This is a cautionary tale, Baggott does not flinch from the horrors of life after atomic/nuclear/biological armaggedon.  Recommended for older readers.  Unique, haunting and strangely beautiful, I have never read anything quite like Pure.

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