Review: Pure by Julianna Baggott

Pure-coverAre you a science fiction or dystopian fanatic that feels like you’ve read everything out there? You’ll want to get your hands on Julianna Baggott’s Pure.

To summarize it quickly, here’s the description from the back of the novel itself:

After the Detonations, the world was unrecognizable. Those who survived were fused to their surroundings, even to each other. Today, ten years later, it is Pressia’s birthday. Today she must either become a soldier or be used for target practice. Today, Pressia begins running.

The Dome stands on a hilltop, its inhabitants untouched by the apocalypse. Pures. Patridge has become suspicious of life in the Dome, the secret attempts to enhance the species, and the circumstances of his mother’s death. When he escapes to search for answers, he’ll enter Pressia’s broken world.

In an uncharted wasteland two survivors must discover the key to Earth’s destruction, or suffer the ultimate demise that still lies in its future.

From time to time, I feel like I have this sixth sense about books. In the past, my predictions about Twilight and Hunger Games becoming huge franchises like Harry Potter were spot on. It’s hard to say how—it’s just a feeling I get. It’s almost the same feeling I get when I’m in a bookstore and looking for a good book to read. By the cover, title or description alone, I can usually guess if a book will be something I like and be something worth my time reading. This was the case for Pure. I had seen the book several times—the cover always drew me in and then I finally just had to pick it up after thinking about it for so long. And I’m so glad I did!


As a science fiction enthusiast and dystopian fan, Pure brings something new and original. Last Christmas, when I worked in a book store, I came across quite a few mothers and girlfriends who were desperately trying to find a science fiction book, but explained that their significant other had nearly read everything. That’s why Pure is such a gem. It’s a fantastic science fiction story, but it’s not hugely popular that not everyone has heard of it. When I shared my enthusiasm for this book, I’ll be honest, I probably sold about six or seven copies of it that winter. And I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.

The novel is told through a number of perspectives, but the reader tends to be in the main protagonists, Pressia and Patridge, heads during the majority of the story. They live separate lives. Pressia was caught in the blast of the Detontions, becoming fused to the object closest to her at the time. She has a doll’s head instead of a hand on one arm. At the start, she’s quite a shy teenager, but I think during the course of the novel, she has a healthy growth in character development. She becomes more confident and willing to take up the fight against the Dome as well as protect her friends. Meanwhile, Patridge grew up and protected inside the Dome, which makes him a “pure” since he wasn’t disfigured from the blast. Curiosity for the outside world and his determination to find his mother gives him motivation to flee from the Dome’s walls. And so as you can guess, he and Pressia’s paths cross and they have more in common than you think!

From the start, I originally internally groaned when these two characters were introduced because I instantly thought: they’re going to end up together. But no, they don’t! (SPOILER ALERT: As the story progresses, you learn that they are brother and sister, so romance, by default, is a no-go). However, there is romance or relationships built with other characters, which seemed forced just for the sake of having a bit of romance tossed in there. I could care less about the girl Partridge ends up with, but Bradwell, the boy with birds fused to his back and who Pressia has a crush on, caught my interest more. He holds secret meetings about the Dome, helping people remember their lives before the Detonations, and tries to save people from being forced to become soldiers.


I also love the detailed descriptions. I’m a fan of imagery; it helps me play out stories like a movie in my head. However, sometimes when an author describes a world too much, it slows down the process of the story. I felt some parts of the novel were too slow for my liking and it only becomes action-packed and mission driven towards the second-half.

Another issue I had with the novel was Partridge’s quest to find his mother beyond the Dome’s walls. His mother had left him clues about his father and where he could possibly find her. When he shares his insights about the clues, I was left confused and felt like I was reading a Sherlock story where readers couldn’t solve the case on their own but have to be force fed answers that they must learn to simply accept as fact.

Despite the minor issues I had with the novel, I think Pure is worth the read if you’re looking for something completely new or in the mood for a fresh take on a dystopian story.

Rating: 4/5

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