Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pure, Julianna Baggot

Title: Pure
Author: Julianna Baggot (author website)
Release Date: Feb. 8th 2012 by Grand Central Publishing
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian
My Rating:1 star2 star

Pure deserves the praise it’s garnered. It’s beautifully written, frightening, intensely emotive, very well thought out and researched. It’s so many amazing things, bundled into what should be an amazing book—but I didn’t enjoy reading it.

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.

Ten years ago, atomic bombs destroyed the world, leaving two groups of survivors: those maimed, burned, and horrifically deformed by the fire and radiation; and ‘Pures’—a lucky and select group who escaped the explosions unharmed, safely tucked away in a massive glass bubble called The Dome.

Pressia survived the explosions outside. Life is hard, food is scarce, and Pressia is nearing her sixteenth birthday—the time when she will be drafted for military service with OSR. She’ll be forced to kill, or be used as target practice.

Partridge escaped the Detonations unscathed, safely tucked away in the Dome, which is more or less ruled by his cold and distant father. His mother and brother dead, Partridge doesn’t quite fit in with the other boys and people of the Dome. He has an independent streak that is dangerous in such a controlled community, and when a slip of the tongue from his father suggests his mother may still be alive—outside—Partridge decides to escape.

As a series of coincidences drive Pressia and Partridge together, they must fight together to survive... but who are they fighting? Who’s the enemy? The pieces start to come together into a much, much bigger picture, as the two discover their lives are more closely intertwined than they could have imagined.

P1 & P2:

Pure is told (mainly) through the shifting POV of Pressia and Partridge. They’ve both suffered, and both of their lives were long ago stripped down to one defining purpose: survival. But they both seemed very naive, and very young.

When Partridge escapes the Dome, we see through his eyes, and it gives the reader a lens of relatability. And I tell you what, I needed that lens, as Pressia, for me, felt  detached, cold and aloof. She needs to be to survive—but it made her hard to relate to. In this, she reminded me a lot of an early-era Obernewtyn Elspeth. And this book started moving at about the same pace. Read: glacial. Which brings me to:

I love the cold, but this is ridiculous:

Pure gets off to a VERY slow start. While Baggot had me enthralled with her achingly beautiful prose and vividly imagined world, it seemed as though very little actually happened. So much of the book was spent setting up the world, the politics, the characters; but not a lot happened with them. I suspect that book two will feature more action, but the gorgeous prose quickly lost its appeal to became flowery, and left me agitated and impatient for the book to get on with it.

Squick!

I struggled with the descriptions of the bizarre physical deformities of the Detonation survivors. They’ve become fused with objects, other people or animals, and it left me squirming. While the healthy and whole people running the Dome are deliberately subjecting their children to procedures designed to genetically alter them for strength, intelligence or obeisance, the survivors outside struggle with mutations that will eventually kill them. It’s creepy and sinister. This isn’t a criticism of Pure, rather, it’s praise: Baggot is uncompromising in presenting the uncomfortable truth of survival in this world, but it’s hard to read.

Seriously?

Pure is peppered with implausible coincidences, yet the plot wouldn’t make sense without them. The whole storyline is held together by a thread so thin it constantly threatened to break. This is meant to be set in a large city, right? Yet Pressia, Partridge and co keep stumbling across people, places, clues or objects from the past to help them on their way, and I kept thinking ‘yeah, right.’ Finding familiar places or people from ‘the before’ over a place that size, in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, with so many people dead is hugely unlikely.

The Verdict:

Julianna Baggot creates a disturbing world in Pure, too close and familiar to our own to be comfortable. It’s an uncompromising picture of what humanity is capable of, and I hated it, because I could actually believe it—but I didn’t want to. Yet, while Pure is packed with fights, flight and conspiracy, lengthy descriptions and sparse, sometimes stiff, dialogue made it feel very slow.

Pure deserves the praise it’s garnered. It’s beautifully written, frightening, intensely emotive, and well thought out and researched. It’s so many amazing things, bundled into what should be an amazing book—but I didn’t enjoy reading it. I struggled through all bar sixty-odd pages of it, and it had a rather open, unstatisfying ending. Turning the final page I was left feeling, sad, emotionally drained, but mainly just relieved it was over. Nevertheless, Pure will appeal to lovers of dystopian fiction—especially fans of Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn. At the end of the day, it just wasn't for me.

To be fair: if I was to rate this book completely objectively, based on writing, world building, imagination and execution alone, it would deserve 4 stars. I’ve decided to rate based on my enjoyment of it... and I struggled with this book. So, forgive me, but: 2 stars.

Don't Take My Word For It:


Pure was kindly provided by Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Thanks you guys!

33 comments:

  1. Banana in Pijamas! Muahaha, I love that show! Anyway, I've been interested in reading this for a while but some people didn't quite enjoy it as well. Sad that you didn't enjoy it but AWESOME REVIEW as usual, Sarah! ♥ Might try this out when I have spare time! :)

    Celine @ Forget-me-not

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    1. I can see why it's getting mixed reviews... I felt kind of mixed about it myself! Honestly, I wouldn't recommend anyone NOT read it. I hope you do and that you LOVE it... but it just wasn't for me, I think :)

      Delete
  2. Sorry you didn't enjoy this more! I know it has a lot of mixed reviews. It does it for some people and not so much for others. But it's great you were able to appreciate the writing and world-building anyway. :D

    Sam @ Realm of Ficton

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    1. EXACTLY. And it was SO beautifully written. I can SO see why this would appeal to a LOT of people, and I hope we start seeing more amazing reviews for it soon :)

      It had an almost... I don't know, literary feel to it? Hmmm...

      Delete
  3. Lol, I love the Banana in Pyjamas picture.

    And aw, it sucks you didn't really enjoy it... :/ I tried to start it earlier this week, but had to take a break and read something else, since I just couldn't get into it. Now I'm scared I never really will. ;o I know a friend says when you get into it it's a great book though, so I'll have to hope for that... It does sound good so hopefully I'll find it to be. :o Great review though!

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    1. Mwaha! I aim to please XD
      Honestly, I didn't get into it the whole way through... I actually really enjoyed the first chapter, then the rest of the book, bar the last 60 pages was a case of "Yes? And? When is it gonne get moving?" I FORCED myself to read this. I wouldn't allow myself to pick up another book till I finished it and it was HARD.

      It was... hmm... I thought it was really slow, largely meandering, and in places, despite the beautiful writing, overwritten at the expense of actual plot and characterisation. The history of the world? Really interested when you finally start getting clues about it, but I constantly felt like I was being held at arm's length, or like witnessing something through a bubble or dome... it NEVER sucked me in. The last quarter or so was excellent, but I was really dissapointed it took so long to get there *sigh*

      I REALLY hope you like it if you get to it... maybe I'm just used to more romance in my books, and was waiting for it to happen? When I started seeing some romantic feeling, I liked it a lot more ;)

      Delete
  4. I FINALLY have a better understanding of what this book is about! Like Sam says, it's gotten a lot of mixed reviews so we'll see how it goes when I start it. I plan to do so soon...

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    1. Ooooh, Kristin, I hope you like it... let me know how you go with it when you start? I'd be REALLY curious to see what you think! xx

      Delete
  5. I agree, I thought the world-building was grotesque yet fantastic but the story itself was very hard to get into. I did like how it wasn't centered solely around the romance and more around trust and family though! But you're right, what really ticked me off were all the coincidences Pressia and Partridge stumbled upon to move the plot along. It just made the whole thing seem completely unrealistic!

    Kim @ The Paper Planes

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    1. THANK YOU. THIS. EXAAACCTTLLY.
      You've summarised the whole book for me in one paragraph. I wanted to love it, but it just didn't happen for me :(

      Delete
  6. You, my dear, thoroughly succeed in conflicting my damn reader heart. I have no idea how I will feel about this LOL. Because the elements you describe in it make me intrigued, yet... the reasons it fell flat for you make me worried it will be the same for me. asdjkhvgdfkbgjfmkxc. Damn you and your wonderfully well written reviews! I got a copy yesterday, so I'll probably be starting soon. Very curious to see what I think! Sorry to hear your enjoyment levels were love :(

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    1. If it makes you feel any better, I'm conflicted toooooo! It *IS* intriging, but it's so. damn. sloooow. And... just yeah. I SERIOUSLY hope you love it. I want people to love it, and it has a lot going for it, but I struggled to get through it. I very nearly didn't finish it. Oooh, but the last 60 pages? Excellent.

      Delete
  7. I totally forgot to go into all the coincidences which is probably a good thing cause I didn't want to bag it out any more than I already did. It sucks writing negative reviews. You did a great job at capturing everything!

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    1. Ugh, yes! THE COINCIDENCES WERE SO ANNOYING!
      I kind of think I wrote too much, but meh. I still think some ppl'll like it, and hey, more power to them. Ah well. At least now we can move onto the next thing? I hate leaving unfinished books behind me.

      Delete
  8. It's good to hear I'm not the only one who'd struggled with this book. I applaud the author because she still did a great job . . . but like I said in my own review 'it just wasn't for me'. Great review nonetheless!

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    1. EXACTLY. You've nailed it. She DID do a great job. It's written beautifully, but it totally wasn't for me.

      Delete
  9. I tried to read this book awhile ago, but just couldn't get into it. It was just too weird for me. I told myself that I might come back to it later, but I'm really not that inclined to try it again.

    I've always had trouble getting into dystopian books, anyway. I don't think it's the right genre for me. However, I do have some dystopian books on my shelf (Matched and Divergent come to mind) that I do want to give a shot.

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    1. Honestly, if you couldn't get into it, then this book isn't for you. I've spoken to a few people, and the ones who, like me, didn't get into it, all ended up having the same problems as me. Other people liked it from the beginning and liked it at the end, but I was the same as you. How it starts out is how it continues---the tone, the pacing, the excitement stays the same in the next 3/4 of the book as it does in the opening. I DON'T think it's a bad book... I just think it isn't for everyone.

      I DID think the same about dystopians... I wasn't quite sure on them after this and a couple of others where I just didn't love the tone... but I just finished Divergent, and it's AMAZING. It's like... dystopian, for non-dystopian fans. You'll LOVE it.

      Delete
  10. LOLL Bananas in Pyjamas! I didn't even see that picture at first ( I was too absorbed in your review haha!) and when I saw P1 and P2 I immediately thought ' is she perhaps referring to two of the characters as P1 and P2 ?!?!? My bad!
    It's a pity you didn't enjoy this more! I love dystopian books, but I really don't think I'll like this either!I'm reallyyyyyy not a fan of lengthy descriptions! Meh, I think I'll just skip this or borrow it from the library if I can be bothered....
    Fantastic review Sarah <3

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    1. Mwahaha! I couldn't help myself XD
      For a while I wasn't sure if I like dystopians as a general rule, but I just finished Divergent and it totally made up my mind. AMAZING. PLUS, I'm reading a A Million Suns which is kind of Dystopian Sci-Fi, right? LOVE IT.

      This is just... yeah, it didn't quite hit the mark for me. It's one of those ones where, if you read the chapter sample, you'll get a pretty good feel for whether it's for you or not. But there are so many other DEFINITELY amazing books out there!

      Delete
  11. Aw, that sucks you couldn't get into it! I know I tried a few weeks ago, but never really got into it and took a break. I've been planning on trying again, but now I'm starting to wonder if I'll end up like you did and never quite get into it... Gah! I know my friend read it and said it was amazing when it happened though. Lol now I'm worried! Great review though! :)

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    1. Yeah... I never got into it, but I refused to not finish it... it was kind of hard. I LOVED the writing, but I just couldn't get myself absorbed in the story, or invested in the characters *sigh*

      You're not alone, though. A LOT of people have said the same :)

      Delete
  12. oh I'm sorry you couldn't enjoy it more//: I know the feeling sometimes we don't even dislike a book, it's not terrible but we just can't CLICK with the book. I read books that are not top quality but I still loved them, it just depends on the authors ability to draw you in and make you love the book I guess. I'm glad though you were honest, this is YOUR review after all don't worry about anyone else, always rate on your enjoyment:D The only very beautiful prose book I read is Daughter of Smoke and Bone and I really liked it that one but then again everything else was balanced so there was no room for me to dislike it. But sometimes beautiful proses become to beautiful where I'm just rolling my eyes. I hope this didn't happen here! poor series books, they always have the problem of little world building because it's spread out through books or too much world building in one book. *sigh* a guide for series building is needed.

    will you be reading the second book?

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    1. Yes! Exactly! I mean, I can admire this book, but I didn't enjoy it.

      I'm torn on the sequel. On one hand, I *AM* curious at how Baggot's going to bring everything together... on the other, I just couldn't slog through abother 400 pages of the same. Reading Pure was painful for me. I had to force it, which just isn't fun. The only reason I finished it was because I hate leaving books unfinished... so yeah, torn. I *may* read an excerpt? Honestly, though, I think I may give it a miss... and wait for a synopsis to get posted :P

      Delete
  13. I swear, am I NOT capable of writing a comment that is LESS then an essay?

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    1. Mwaha! Racquel! I have the EXACT SAME PROBLEM. For reals... *head shake* You don't want to see some of the comments I've left... some of them are longer than the posts themselves :S

      Delete
  14. Well that just SUCKS. I guess we both read bad books this week. This book actually sounds sooo interesting but I see what you mean. Sometimes you just can't enjoy a book even if it's well written. It just doesn't call to you, you know. Well that's just pooh. Sorry you didn't enjoy it. I hate when I am sad at the end of a book. It's ruins my enjoyment of the book overall. I don't think I will be checking this one out.

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    1. It was a SERIOUSLY tough read for me, and I just don't know why :S
      Ah well, they can't all be good, right? We need the bad ones ot prove how good the good ones are ;)

      Delete
  15. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! I'm reading Pure right now and now I'm scared to keep reading! That is a REAL bummer! I agree with you about the "slowness" and the concept is a bit...odd...Honestly I was hoping it would get better. *sighs* honestly I have NO idea what to say! Or in this case type! How about this: I'll finish the book and based on what I think we can either have a mocking session where we make fun of the book or a debating session which would happen if I end up loving it. Man I really hope it's not THAT bad cause I HATE writing negative reviews...

    Jaskirat~SeeitORreadit

    Tempest and The Eternal One's Giveaway!

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  16. Okay, so part of me is intrigued by how morbid this book sounds. I had no idea it would be that...crazy! It's a bummer that you didn't love it, though. I think I'll give it a shot, but I'm usually not a huge fan of slower-paced books. *shrug* Thanks for the review! :)
    - Lauren

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  17. okay, this review is ABSOLUTELY fab. i just love how you set it out, your reviewing voice is SO COOL (genuine and unique and honest and fun)

    loving your blog.

    (i felt a similar way to you on this one)

    xx Nomes

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    1. Eeee, oh my goodness, thank you! You made my day *blushes*
      I was sad. I wanted to like this one! The writing was beautiful! But yeah :/

      Delete
  18. I agree with you, I really struggled to get into this world - simply because my mind fought the images of the fusing SO much, it was horrid to think about. Once I sort of let that sink in and accept it for what it was - horror itself - I got into the book rather well and really loved it. I can see why some people thought it was slow or implausible. I guess I am the sort of reader who can easily go with the flow and usually accept things as they are LOL (I'm not as critical of a reader as I could/should be ?) haha I can see why it's getting mixed reviews for sure, I'm SO excited to read Fuse though. I really loved all the characters - especially Helmud, I have a special soft place for him especially after the one incident (read: thread/hair incident) I giggled and pumped my fist on that one :D

    Great review as always! :D

    April @ My Shelf Confessions

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