Pure is the first novel in a brilliant new young adult dystopian trilogy by Julianna Baggott, released in 2012 with the following novels Fuse and Burn released in 2013 and 2014. There is so much to love about this novel!
Pure is set in a stunningly vivid world devastated by the Detonations, an apocalyptic event involving nanotechnology that fused survivors to objects, animals and even to the earth itself. One such survivor is Pressia. Pressia was a little girl when the Detonations occurred, leaving her disfigured and her hand fused inside a doll’s head, struggling to live in a society of wretches where memories of the Before are treated as something precious and children sing disturbing rhymes,
Burn a Pure and breathe the ash.
Take his guts and make a sash.
Twist his hair and make a rope.
And use his bones to make Pure soap.
Washy, washy, washy. One two three.
Washy, washy, washy. Pure is me (29).
Partridge is a Pure, protected from the Detonations inside the Dome, and son of the Dome’s leader and founder, Ellery Willux. Whilst the Detonations did not cause any mutations or mutilations, he is genetically altered by nanotechnology to become a super human. When Partridge discovers his father concealed the truth about his mother’s death during the Detonations, his quest to find his mother takes him beyond the enclosed safety of the Dome where his world collides with Pressia’s.
The novel is also told from two other perspectives: Lyda, who’s crushing on Partridge, and El Capitan, whose younger brother, Helmud, is fused to his back. Even though they’re supporting characters to Pressia and Partridge’s main narrative thread, they add depth and complexity offering alternate points of view that at times conflicts with the others.
The setting is bleak, the characters are scarred and deformed and yet friendship, loyalty and hope are key themes. Some relationships seemed to be formed a little too quickly, especially when considering the background, such as El Capitan’s devotion to Pressia, but the overall mystery that drives the novel is well paced and logical without being obvious. I’m looking forward to the next book and what will become of the deeply flawed and very human characters.