The only word that comes to mind after reading Pure by Julianna Baggott is WEIRD. Sometimes it was hard to believe what I was reading. The world has gone haywire in this book. It's a dystopian/post-apocalyptic world. If it ever gets made into a movie it would be a sight to see. A young girl with a doll head where her hand used to be. A young man with birds constantly fluttering on his back. A soldier who can never get rid of his brother because their bodies are fused together. A young man who makes a painful sacrifice just so he can see his mother again.
Powerful detonations have left two kinds of people in the world, the Pures, who live "blissfully" inside a dome, and those who live outside the dome. Outside the dome people are scarred physically and emotionally for life. Outside the dome people live in constant fear and with a sense of hopelessness. No one believes the world will get any better. Pressia, 16, doesn't remember life before the detonations. She's at an age where she should be enjoying life instead Pressia is trying to avoid getting picked up by the resistance. She has a doll head fused to one of her hands as a constant reminder of life since the detonations. She lives amidst the rubble in a barbershop with her grandfather. Pressia's grandfather is her only link to the past. He can remind her of the past. They have a strong bond. They're in danger of being separated. To Pressia, life inside the dome has to be better.
To Partridge, life outside the dome has to be better. His father is the ruler of the dome. People are told how to live, where to live, what to eat, permission has to be granted before you can reproduce. Internally Partridge has always felt differently. Unlike Pressia, Partridge can remember life before the detonations. His mother, whom he has been led to believe is dead, is constantly on his mind. Perhaps if his mother was in his life, Partridge would feel differently. But he feels lonely and incomplete. His father is distant. His brother Sedge "killed" himself. After his father drops the hint that Partridge's mother is still alive, he wants out of the dome. Once out of the dome, Partridge is thrown for a loop. Life outside the dome isn't what he hoped. It's every man for himself outside the dome. The grass isn't always greener on the other side.
Partridge and Pressia eventually band together on a journey to find his mother. They get more out of this trip than they bargained for. They're not fast friends. It takes a while before they trust each other. Does Pressia have an ulterior motive for helping Partridge? Does Partridge have an ulterior motive for accepting Pressia's help? But over time, they learn things about each other. Pressia is a strong and she is a survivor. Partridge draws on an inner strength that he didn't know he had.
Along this journey there is A LOT OF WEIRDNESS!! Dusts, yes that kind of dust, that kill people. A society of women, whose bodies are fused with their children, that forces people to sacrifice a part of their body in exchange for protection. Soldiers who will hunt people for sport. Sometimes I was staring at this book with my eyes wide open. I couldn't believe what I was reading. Did that just happen? Did she really just write that? Is this really a YA book? That last question I'm unsure. Yes there are young characters, but some parts seem very adult to me. It's a very complex plot, and I probably have to read it again to understand it better. Normally a book like this isn't my cup of tea, but it was an interesting journey.
Rating: Give it a try
Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Grand Central Publishing) in exchange for an honest review.