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Pure (Pure Trilogy)

Pure - Julianna Baggott PURE has the distinction of being one of the most hyped books of early 2012. Film rights, a massive auction and a huge advance to the author, a great deal of talk from every corner of the publishing community. As a book that straddles the line between YA and traditional adult fiction, PURE has a lot going for it on paper. And the idea for the book itself is wonderful. I read the synopsis and knew immediately that I needed to read the book. But the moment I turned on my kindle and started reading, I ran into a large number of issues that damaged my reading experience.The story of a young girl named Pressia, a victim of the Detonations left with a doll’s head fused in place of her hand, and Partridge, a boy raised in the Dome, PURE is a post-apocalyptic, science fiction-heavy adventure story. On page one I realized immediately that PURE was going to have a lot of one thing – description. Baggott is a wonderful descriptive writer, with a great attention to detail and imagery that leaps off the page. When description is not accompanied by plot, though, it becomes boring very quickly. We are treated to pages of descriptive passages of deformities and the wastelands after the Detonations, but it wasn’t until 50% in exactly for me that anything began to happen. When a book takes over 200 pages to reach a firm start to the book, it’s not a good sign.Where PURE suffered was pacing. For me, it took 75% of the book before we get to the real chunk of the story with break-neck action, real character development, and the revelation of plenty of things I had begun to suspect. In fact, a lot of the twists were obvious and convenient while others were definitely awesome and took me by surprise. Pressia, Partridge, and their comrades are for the most part very well written, strong characters. For the most part. Secondary characters, though, often faded into the background or simply served as set dressing. Some even seemed like flat caricatures created from clichés, and others were there and gone without any real purpose. I also felt that the two additional points of view besides the important leads Pressia and Partridge – the POVs of El Capitan and Lyda – detracted from the narrative, especially since neither brought much to the table besides access to additional intrigue that the reader did not need to know.The world building for me was standard YA-level post-apocalyptic dystopian world building. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the atomic blast did not create anywhere near the level of mutations caused, leaving me scratching my head, especially after Hiroshima is mentioned (also, if you ever visit Japan, Hiroshima is a very lovely city – try the okonomiyaki!). If you are a victim of a nuclear bomb, three things might happen – you’ll die a quick and painless death, you’ll die of radiation poisoning (either a few days or weeks later, or maybe even months or years thanks to cancer) and it will hurt, or you’ll be lucky and just have a lot of burns or be crushed by a building you’re in. Fun times. (I have been told that I need to stop poking holes in this, that this is a book and not real life, but still, I think people have a right to know that a nuclear bomb isn’t going to fuse them to their cat or their beloved cardboard cutout of Edward Cullen. But in case you are curious, click HERE to learn more about surviving a nuclear bomb.)However, this book is extremely thought provoking, particularly aspects of the culture inside the dome and the role of women in their society. It definitely drives to the heart examining gender roles, and also the way that human beings cope in the face of danger. Picturing myself in their situation, I don’t know how I’d have made it either way. Being fused to my computer would totally suck, and having to breathe through a fan in my throat? No thanks!I will definitely be reading book 2 if only to see what Baggott can think up next, but I hope her editor helps her cut down on a lot of the random excess description. If this book had been more about plot and the progression of the story rather than about description, it would have been five very enthusiastic stars.VERDICT: Bogged down with too much description and attention to detail, PURE’s wonderful premise and interesting characters are overshadowed by the world they live in – which is rarely a good thing.