PURE by Julianna Baggott follows several characters but the main heart of the story belongs to Pressia, a young girl turning 16 in a world that’s been obliterated by an atomic bomb 10 years prior. Everyone on the outside of a Dome which served as protection for the “pures” are considered “wretches” and have some kind of fusing. In Pressia’s case, one hand has been covered by the doll’s head that she was holding at the time of the blast. Another character is fused with birds that are still alive and implanted on his back. Other characters are fused with other people like Siamese twins. It’s grotesque and part of Pressia’s arc is to figure out whether she can accept herself for who she is or if she is better off finding a “cure” for her deformity. When a pure escapes from the Dome on a mission to find his mother, Pressia saves his life and the two of them start a journey discovering the truth about the Dome, the outside world, what happened, their families. Like WIZARD OF OZ, they collect newcomers along the way who become integral to the overall story.
PURE (followed by Book 2 FUSE and Book 3 BURN) is an excellent series that offers a true sci fi world, variety of character, and something more complicated writing than than the young heroine in a dystopian/apocalyptic society stories we have seen in other series such as HUNGER GAMES, DIVERGENT, LEGEND, MATCHED… Baggott’s use of changing POV within a selection of main characters but not ALL the characters offers the reader an opportunity to at times be complicit in wrongdoing, something not seen in these other series. I found myself uncomfortable with at least one of the main characters who kept disappointing my expectation of becoming the hero and rising above external manipulation. It was enlightening to see/read/experience characters from a direct POV who ultimately failed in their character arc. It was expertly handled by Baggott.
I highly recommend it. I’m not sure it came to a full resolution at the end of BURN, but endings are always hard and in such a rich and complex story, I am not sure what I would have done differently.
In all, I’m not sure I understand why it hasn’t done as well as the previously mentioned series’ like HUNGER GAMES. When I wanted to purchase PURE, I had to order it online, no store carried it. I wonder if it’s because the love story is not as central as it is in the other series, though it’s certainly there. It’s a more difficult read and I didn’t get caught up in the same passion and urgency to continue reading the way I did with the other series. However, I think that’s a testament to its writing and characters that it couldn’t be treated as pulp. I can see how it may have benefited from more action and a different style of description for the dramatic conflict scenes. As a writer, it’s an interesting question. Thoughts always welcome!