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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An original, absorbing and well-written novel
Wow! Pure is the first modern fantasy novel I've picked up in I don't know how long which has truly gripped me. There seems to be a conveyor belt somewhere routinely churning out awful bland fantasy from writers of very average ability, but I'm delighted to say that Julianna Baggott has broken the mould. Pure is the first book in what promises to be an extremely original,...
Published on 5 Dec 2011 by Otherkin

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good attempt at an ambitious, original story, but with flaws
Pure describes a post-apocalyptic world in which a small number of 'haves' live in a sealed Dome, whereas the majority of the population struggle for existence outside the Dome, with a variety of deformities. The story follows people both within and outside the Dome, and the ways in which their lives intertwine.

The story is a very ambitious one, and highly...
Published 23 months ago by Max


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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An original, absorbing and well-written novel, 5 Dec 2011
This review is from: Pure (Pure Trilogy 1) (Hardcover)
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Wow! Pure is the first modern fantasy novel I've picked up in I don't know how long which has truly gripped me. There seems to be a conveyor belt somewhere routinely churning out awful bland fantasy from writers of very average ability, but I'm delighted to say that Julianna Baggott has broken the mould. Pure is the first book in what promises to be an extremely original, involving and, best of all, well written trilogy for young adults which older readers can also enjoy.

Pure leads us into a dystopian America, shell-shocked by a cataclysm known as the Detonations which has left the survivors genetically mutated and fighting to stay alive in a world choked with ash and inhabited by creatures that can no longer be called human. Only those evacuated to the mysterious Dome were protected from the Detonations and they continue to live in isolation from the devastated world outside, an untarnished people regarded by the survivors with fascination and jealous hatred. The story follows the intertwining lives of individuals from both within and without the Dome as they begin to learn the truth about the world they live in and the complicity of those who run it.

I found Pure instantly engaging and the quality of the writing is apparent from the very first page. The characters are real, you care about them, their universe becomes your universe. There are paragraphs within this book which are written with such beauty and subtlety that they take you by surprise. Pure is full of action and a fair amount of blood, but it never becomes coarse or gratuitous like some out-and-out action flick. The focus is always on the characters - Bradwell with fluttering birds embedded in his back, Pressia with a doll's head fused to her wrist where her hand should be, and the pure and unscarred Partridge Willux. The book's world is filled with a macabre beauty which somehow seems to reflect the real world we live in, although it is so different from our world in so many ways.

Pure gets five stars for how much I enjoyed it and for what it made me feel. Unfortunately, I do have to be a bit critical and lop a star off. The plot, although wonderfully inventive and entertaining, has holes. There are one too many magnificent rescues from the slavering jowls of death, and the conclusions that some of the characters manage to draw from the most paltry evidence is a little too convenient. I suppose I just like my fantasy believable, and it most definitely is possible to create a truly fantastical universe which is still convincingly real - look at Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series or Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. It seems that Julianna Baggott hasn't been able to devise a way in which her characters can discover what they need to discover, so she's sort of spoonfed them the information they need. There is one particularly silly bit where Bradwell leaps to the most astonishing conclusions in rapid succession (all correct, of course) and I'm really not sure how he did it. It is a shame that some parts of the book such as this seem to be a bit rushed and not properly considered, as Baggott writes with such poignancy at other times. There is one meeting in the book which should have been one of the emotional cruces of the story but, again, it seems to have been written in rather a rush and left me quite cold.

It also seems that Baggott doesn't always trust her reader to pick up on the subtleties of her characters' emotions. El Capitan's feelings towards his brother are complicated, and Baggott uses Pressia to reflect upon the brothers' relationship so that the reader might perfectly understand what El Capitan is feeling and why. This seems a rather indiscreet tactic. It is also quite unnecessary because, in fact, Baggott draws the characters so well and truthfully that it is hard not to empathise with them. Their actions and thoughts are always comprehensible, if complex. I'd much rather get to know the characters slowly, as I would a real person, than have their whims and motives explained to me.

Despite the drawbacks, I loved Pure. It is not one of the "great" works of dystopian fiction in the ilk of George Orwell's 1984 or Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, nor does it try to be, and comparison is pointless. It is, however, a completely entertaining, electrifying, moving and creative novel with very appealing and believable characters and I can't get it out of my head. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this trilogy really took off and I'd be very interested to see it on the big screen - I've got my fingers crossed that it doesn't end up as a 12A or something. I can't wait to see what else Julianna Baggott has to offer, and the next book in the series is top of my reading list.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Everything is Broken, 19 Dec 2011
By 
Quicksilver (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pure (Pure Trilogy 1) (Hardcover)
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Dystopian fiction is rarely a barrel of laughs, but 'Pure' is probably just about the darkest, bleakest speculation on humanity's downfall I have read. This is a distressing book in so many ways, not least because the cruelty displayed by some of its characters is all too plausible. It rivals 1984 in its bleak analysis of the human condition.

'Pure' is set after the 'detonations', a cataclysmic chemical and nuclear fire-bombing of the entire planet (we assume). The fortunate ones were sheltered in an impervious dome, the rest were left to fend for themselves with the promise that 'We will one day emerge from the Dome to join you in peace' there is a heavy suggestion that those inside are God's chosen few.

The story begins a decade or so after the detonations, and follows Pressia and Partridge Wilux (who rivals Ender Wiggin for a 'most ridiculous protagonist name' award). Pressia lives outside the Dome in a ruined city with areas such as the Meltlands and the Deadlands. Partridge lives safe inside. Pressia lives with her grandfather, eking out a hand to mouth existence, bartering and trading favours to survive. Partridge is the son of the Dome's designer. All children in the dome are subjected to genetic recoding; enhancements to make them more useful to the rarefied society in which they life. Rather inevitably, Partridge is unhappy with his lot, and devises a way to escape.

The power of 'Pure' is derived from Baggott's evocative descriptions of the world outside of the Dome. Everything is broken; nothing works as it should. Almost nothing can be grown, the ground is so contaminated. The inhabitants themselves are broken, both mentally and physically. Such was the power of the weapons used in the detonations that survivors found themselves fused to inanimate objects. Pressia has a dolls head fused to her hand; a hated reminder of a lost time. Throughout the book, treasured pets and loved ones have become attached to the wretches in the city outside the dome; the love/hate dichotomy this creates makes for some powerful writing. It is a highly original and discomfiting device.

It is not giving away much of the book to say that Pressia and Partridge meet. After initial mistrust, they discover they have more in common than they have any right to expect (this does stretch the novels credibility at times). Together with an intriguing, compelling and more than a little disturbing ensemble cast, they attempt to explore their shattered pasts, in the vague hope of understanding their parlous present.

There are similarities between 'Pure' and Suzanne Collins' highly entertaining The Hunger Games series, but where Collins books are about a plucky individual sticking it to the man, Baggott's novel is a much more subtle examination of the disintegration of society; the world that she has created is credible throughout. Broken bodies, broken bones, broken hands on broken ploughs, broken treaties, broken vows and people bending broken rules; it's all here. Everything is broken. Baggott weaves a terrific tale in the aftermath of destruction. 'Pure' is 'The Hunger Games' for grown ups

Though its pace is sometimes a little slow, 'Pure' is a highly absorbing novel. It is also the first in a proposed trilogy, something that only became apparent to me, as I approached the novel's end, and realised there was no way it could all be wrapped up. The novel's finale is open, and as hard-hitting and emotional as the rest of the book. It also proves that Baggott can make unflinching decisions about the fate of her characters. 'Pure' is a fine novel and a must for all lovers of dystopian fiction. I look forward to the arrival of part two.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Post-Apocalyptic Dystopic trilogy, 8 Dec 2011
By 
roses (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Pure (Pure Trilogy 1) (Hardcover)
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Pure is the start of a dystopic trilogy which tells the tale of resilient young characters fighting against overwhelming odds of survival. Set in a ravaged post apocalyptic world in the far distant future, life on Earth has been decimated by a series of atomic 'Detonations' which has left the majority of survivors 'fused' with inanimate objects and materials to their bodies, thus leaving them grotesquely deformed. Meanwhile the few who survived unscathed, inhabit a controlled environment known as the 'Dome', uncontaminated and sheltered from the wretched landscape in preparation for the 'New Eden'. Those who live in the Dome claim to watch the survivors from afar benevolently in the hope that one day they will emerge and join them in peace.

However as sixteen year old heroine Pressia finds out, the motives of the Dome are far from benevolent. Pressia is what they call a 'wretch', a survivor who is disfigured, a doll's head fused into the place where her hand should be. Without giving too much away Pressia fate leads her to other survivors and Partridge, a 'Pure' who has only ever know of life within the Dome. Partridge, believing his mother could be alive outside, escapes from the Dome and is rescued by Pressia. On the run together, they discover dark secrets and an oppression that threatens to extinguish all hope for the future and their survival.

Pure incorporates a mix of oppressive authoritarianism and grotesque anarchy. This is an absorbing novel with characters who are emotionally complex, coming to terms with the 'Before' and now. The pace is upbeat and the theme of survival, humanity and dignity are always on the forefront, but there is perhaps a message of what it means to be 'Pure', as in pure of heart as opposed to pure in physical form. Pressia manages to find moments of beauty in a starkly horrific world devoid of hope and dignity.

I have read that film producers have been bidding rights to make this story into a film. I do hope it comes to fruition. Although visually disturbing I thoroughly enjoyed reading Pure and found it captivating and original.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good attempt at an ambitious, original story, but with flaws, 18 Aug 2012
This review is from: Pure (Pure Trilogy 1) (Hardcover)
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Pure describes a post-apocalyptic world in which a small number of 'haves' live in a sealed Dome, whereas the majority of the population struggle for existence outside the Dome, with a variety of deformities. The story follows people both within and outside the Dome, and the ways in which their lives intertwine.

The story is a very ambitious one, and highly original. There are elements of Cronin's 'The Passage', as well as elements of Stephenson's 'Anathem'.

However, sadly there are also some flaws. The characters are generally very well drawn, but Baggott negates this strength far too often by using what I think is one of the most annoying literary devices: she uses one character to explain what another character is thinking. Perhaps, to give the author credit, she felt this was necessary for a YA audience, at which this novel is directed. Even so, I think she should trust her readers and her characterisation more.

Also, the plot has some serious holes. The protagonists are saved from danger on the thinnest pretense, and the characters seem almost omniscient sometimes.

Overall, I did enjoy this book, but found myself feeling like it could have been so much more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure, 2 July 2012
This review is from: Pure (Pure Trilogy 1) (Hardcover)
This is one of the most haunting books I have ever read. There are pieces of it which are stunningly beautiful in the author's capture of humanity's fight against dreadful odds and her description of the post-apocalyptic landscape. There are also pieces which are terribly depressing. There are scenes towards the end which made me want to cry, I felt so deeply for the characters involved.

The story essential covers the post-apocalyptic aftermath of a series of Detonations which reduce the world to nothing but glass, ash and dust. These Detonations appear to be a kind of awful culmination of atomic and nano technology causing the survivors to fuse to things within their immediate vicinity at the times of the blasts. I found the scenes with the mothers perhaps the most touching of all. There are some who have survived in a radiation-proof dome, the leaders of which are attempting to create a "new eden" for these few to emerge back into. The rest who were left behind have been left to fend for themselves by this awful distopian society. We meet Pressia, Blackwell, Partridge, Lyda and El Capitan/Helmud. The characters are wonderfully evolved, I genuinely cared for every one of them.

I found it difficult to believe this novel is rated as a YF novel as there are some really serious adult themes covered in it. Although I believe it to be incredibly important that children understand and respect the events of our history, this is perhaps a little too harsh for younger readers.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is haunting, gripping, beautiful, timeless, disconcerting and so much more it defies classification. I can only stress again and again that this book is unlike anything else out there. To truly understand the breadth of this novel, it will require many re-reads. Highly, highly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing, but compelling reading..., 25 Jan 2012
By 
Christopher Meadows (York, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Pure (Pure Trilogy 1) (Hardcover)
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Pure is a book set in the harrowing aftermath of a global cataclysm; its world is typically a bleak and empty one. The shattered remnants of the local authorities are engaged in child snatching for sinister reasons; the cities are shattered ruins, the land and water poisoned and, in some cases, actively hostile. The survivors shown to us in the text are just that - unflinchingly portrayed as barely eking out an existence, all crippled, physically and spiritually, by their continued existence in a world which has largely been reduced to a wasteland.

In contrast to the physical bleakness of the survivors world the reader is given The Dome, a sealed environment which the devastation, somehow, did not touch. The people inside are clean, healthy, and happy - at least physically. The Dome exerts a pull over the minds of the survivors outside, a mixture of rage, hope and fascination which the author captures magnificently.
And into these intermingled worlds, of the Dome and the shattered outside, are thrown several teenagers, all of whom are struggling to define, in some way or other, who they are, and if what they believe about the world is true.

The author manages to write a remarkably compelling piece; I came in expecting a fairly typical coming-of-age novel with a little dystopian flavour, and came away in parts intrigued, disgusted and harrowed. This examination of a society after a nuclear firestorm is compellingly unflinching. The central characters carry a little of the `teen adventurer' about them, but this is gradually filed off as they move through the world. This text is, in some parts, an exploration of social, psychic and physical damage - and there isn't too much room there for the titular `Pure'.

I won't give the story away, but will note that it starts off rather slowly, gradually acclimatising the reader to the characters and their new world(s) , before ratcheting up to a surprisingly tense and fast-paced second half. The prose itself is well conveyed, the language clear and concise, with each character a unique voice - even the minor characters seem unique.

My only (slight) complaint was the discovery at the close of the text that it is to be part of a series; however, it works perfectly well as a stand-alone novel, so this is really a minor issue.

Overall, this is a wonderful portrayal of a shattered world, the death and growth of hope, and the capacity of humanity to perpetrate great acts of evil, and small acts of good. Certainly worth the read - just don't expect to have an easy time of it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing and addictive, 14 Jan 2012
By 
Freckles (Knaresborough, North Yorkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Pure (Pure Trilogy 1) (Hardcover)
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There have been a number of post apocalypse novels over the years and this is up there among the better ones.

At the opening of the novel, it is a few days following the "Detonations" and the world is all but obliterated, when those who are left hear a droning in the sky above them. Millions of pieces of paper spin and fall to the ground. Their message is clear, but still puzzling.

"We know you are here, our brothers and sisters.
We will, one day, emerge from the Dome to join
you in peace.
For now, we watch from afar, benevolently."

Right from the start, we know that there are the haves and the have nots. A not unusual dystopian scenario, but things are far more complicated than that. Pressia and her grandfather are two of the have nots and life is a daily struggle. They exist in a destroyed former barber shop, scratching out a living and trying to stay alive. Pressia is nearing her sixteenth birthday and her grandfather is desperate for her to remain hidden from the OSR, to whom she must turn herself in on the sixteenth date of her birth.
Within the Dome, resides seventeen year old Partridge, who has a charmed existence, well removed from that of Pressia. He is attending a history lesson in a climate controlled classroom, when he is summoned to see his father at the medical centre over which he presides.

But, Pressia and Partridge are inextricably linked and far closer than they seem.

Their story and that of those people they encounter within the pages of this addictive tale, is heartrending at times. However, it is the well researched attention to detail that impresses. The terrible toll the "Detonations" have wrought on the world is painstakingly retold. Those who did not die immediately, have been left disfigured and fused to either each other or pieces of everyday objects, animals or birds. Pressia herself has a doll's head fused to her wrist, a doll she was carrying when the nuclear bombs hit when she was seven years old.

Julianna Baggott has written several books for younger readers and I think this novel would also appeal to readers from mid teens onwards.

I won't recall further details, so as not to spoil things for future readers....but read it you must. You won't regret it.

I can also see it making a great movie.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative, emotional and action-packed!, 25 July 2014
This review is from: Pure (Kindle Edition)
This was a darkly imaginative, unique, thrilling, action-packed yet emotional novel where at one point you are happy then 'BAM!' your angry and sad. I am not a massive fan of the cover, though it is simple and I love the font, I feel like there needs to be something else there.

When a nucleur detonation hits America, civilisation is separated. Pures live inside the Dome whilst the Savages live outside in the contaminated surrounding. And they hate one another. However, the Dome is definitely not as perfect as it first appears to be, people are controlled and unable to break lose. But on the outside things aren't much better as they are herded like wild animals by OSR. But when the creator of the Dome's last son Partridge, and Pressia who is to be collected by the OSR, their pathways soon intertwine allowing secrets and history to become uncovered.

Pressia is a strong and independent character, she is driven to protect the ones she loves but also those around her. She is intelligent, though her judgement can seem to be clouded by others meaning she sometimes came across as a 'follower'. Her past, alongside both Partridge's and Branwell's was incredibly intriguing and helped to understand the causes of their personalities and characteristics; they were all very interesting and perceptive characters. Being able to explore the novel through the eyes of all four key characters was a brilliant bonus to the novel as you were able to explore different perspectives on the events, but also how someones actions can affect others.

The plot and concept of this novel was incredibly intriguing, the idea of how people are fused to the object or person they were with at the time of the detonations is very dark yet something that you want to learn more about. The world Baggott created is strange to encounter, where children do not know about 3D glasses and cinemas, it is strange to read about their elders explain to them what they are as they are something that is very normal in many of our lives.

This is a brilliant start to what I can imaging is going to be an emotional yet darkly captivating trilogy, but also with a huge amount of action and self discovery. I cannot wait to dive straight into the sequel, Fuse.

*Received from Publisher in exchange for an honest review*
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Engrossing if Depressing Read, 4 Jan 2012
By 
Brett H "pentangle" (Brighton) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Pure (Pure Trilogy 1) (Hardcover)
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The author paints a convincing and harrowing picture of a post apocalyptic United States following the 'detonations'. The world is comprised of two separate and separated groups. There are those outside of the dome, known as the wretches, who struggle to survive in a hostile environment where crops will not grow and cities are ruins. Those outside have physical damage from the detonations, including fusion which has joined them to inanimate objects which were near them at the time of the explosions or to other living creatures. It is not entirely clear why this has occurred but it seems to be related either to the effects of atomic explosions or as a result of nanotechnology included purposely in the detonations.

The group inside the dome are 'pure' as they are apparently the fortunate ones who were within the dome at the time of the detonations and hence untouched. They are regarded with a mixture of envy and almost religious fervor by those outside. However, the dome is far from a utopian society and the inhabitants are manipulated, programmed and modified in a nightmarish Orwellian scenario. Hence the choice is between two different varieties of hell although, of course, no one has a choice as to which group they are part of.

Once the story gets into gear it involves a group of people comprised of a pure and several wretches, on a mission outside of the dome which I will not go into detail on, not wishing to spoil it for others. However, I found this tale thoroughly engrossing if rather depressing. Anecdotally during my first session on the book I was so involved that I went beyond my station on the way home - I cannot remember ever doing this before! Ultimately the story comes down to the basic concept of man's inhumanity to man and the struggles of a few basically good people to overcome adversity against formidable odds.

Julianna Baggott has succeeded in writing a story which is unique and which most readers will find hard to put down. The conclusion opens the way for additional books and I look forward to reading the other two parts of the trilogy as I believe this is what is planned.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Original, 25 May 2013
By 
Maria2702 (Tyne and Wear, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pure (Kindle Edition)
Not for the faint-hearted and I say that as an adult! The results of the "Detonation" are truly terrible but is an honest story and well worth the read.
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Pure (Center Point Platinum Fiction (Large Print))
Pure (Center Point Platinum Fiction (Large Print)) by Julianna Baggott (Hardcover - Mar 2012)
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