Author: Julianna Baggott
Full confession: I didn’t finish this book. I read most of it, the “quest” was over, but I bowed out for the chase scene and the cliff-hanger ending.
Look, I had three E-books on hold all come through at the same time, and one was a Terry Pratchett novel! I am only human.
Pure is supposed to be a dark dystopian novel set in a post-nuclear war world. Not just any post-nuclear war world. These were super-bad nukes! Because a nuclear war wasn’t scary enough I guess.
Some humans managed to get into a protective dome before the blast. They didn’t suffer mutation and disease like the rest of humanity. They are the Pure, the ones who were never tainted by the bomb.
Pressia used to wish she could see a Pure. She used to wish she could be healed from her mutation, but those were the dreams of a child. Now all she cares about is not getting drafted and taking care of her aging grandfather.
In the marketing for this novel, I was told how “Dark” this story is. Sorry, I just don’t see it. It’s bloody, but to me, that doesn’t make it dark. This is not Lord of the Flies kind of dark, where we see people struggling to survive and give into their animal nature. No, this is baby’s-first-dystopia.
The mutated humans, besides Pressia, are basically zombies, literally falling into the idea that the more grotesque your mutation, the less human you are. I don’t think this was an intentional decision by the author, I think that she just wanted creepy looking things for our heroes to fight. Baggott seamed to realize this too, because she added some heavily mutated humans as friends about 2/3 into the story. Too little too late.
Speaking of story, there isn’t much of one. Partridge is a boy from the dome, who becomes convinced his mother didn’t die in the bombing, which means there’s a chance she’s still alive. So he sets out of the dome to find her, adventure ensues. Right after leaving the dome he meets the draft-dodging Pressia by random luck, which is REALLY convenient later in the story! It would work if Partridge had a clue that to lead him to Pressia’s grandfather, but instead, they just conveniently meet on the street.
I can believe human’s mutating in the aftermath of a nuclear war. I can even believe in a crazy atomic blast that fuses whatever you are holding to your hand. So while I can believe a child holding a doll during a bombing would get the plastic fused to her hand, what I can’t believe is that the doll would replace her hand, and she’d just live like that for the next seven years! No! She’d get an infection, blood-poisoning from the plastic (and that’s assuming that this doesn’t screw up her arms blood circulation and she doesn’t die from internal bleeding) At best, gangrene would set in and she’d lose the arm.
There’s an attempt at an explanation about how the bomb was designed to do this in the last part of the story, but it’s not good enough. There is nothing magical about a bomb.
The biggest problem I have with a lot of modern dystopian novels is not thinking through the social structure. This is why it’s a dystopia! It’s a chilling image of what our world might become.
The reason that 1984, and Brave New World are regarded as classics is that they painted a picture of a horrifying world that may come to pass. Planet of the Apes showed us a world destroyed by itself turning the whole social structure upside down. Pure shows us that bombs are bad. Thanks couldn’t have figured that out on my own!