Pure by Julianna Baggott
Grand Central Publishing, New York, 2012
From my library hold list. This is the first book in a trilogy.
I read about this one early last year and, being a fan of apocalyptic fiction, was intrigued by the setting and the unusual features of the main characters. As a young adult novel Pure has some of the draws of The Hunger Games, struggle for survival, adventure, evil adults and budding romance. What helps it rise above other modern, young adult, post-apocalyptic novels is the strength of Baggott’s world building and her writing.
Pressia lives in a land destroyed by the Detonations. Like those around her, these deadly explosions have fused her body with other material, in her case, a doll. Something has allowed these fusions to live and, in many ways, thrive. There are areas where people, melded with glass, engine parts and animals, struggle to survive. There are areas where only Beasts survive, beings more animal than human, and places where Dust threatens everything, soil and bits of matter that have taken on a violent life of their own. And there is the Dome, where the Pure live, and wait to reunited with their brethren.
We know you are there, our brothers and sisters,
We will, one day, emerge from the Dome
to join you in peace.
For now, we watch from afar, benevolently.
But are the Pure truly benevolent? A young man, Partridge, the son of one of the original designers of the Dome, escapes to the outside. When he meets Pressia the two of them find a vital connection and, along with others, determine to discover the truth buried in their shared past.
Baggott has created a frightening, nightmarish world containing some of the most bizarre beings in fiction, at least for me. Living Dust, humans fused with engines, animals, each other..
Our Good Mother speaks only to Pressia now. “The Detonations hit and many of us were here, alone, in our houses or trapped in our cars. Some were drawn to our yards to see the sky or, like me, to the windows. We grabbed our children to our chests. The children we could gather. And there were those of us who were imprisoned, dying. We were all left to die. We were the ones who tended the dying. We wrapped the dead…” She sits again in her chair. “They left us to die and we are forced to carry our children, our children who will never outgrow us, and we will do this forever. Our burden is our love.” From pages 286/287.
In her afterword the author states that research for this novel lead her to accounts on the aftereffects of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Having read many of those accounts I can see their influence. I look forward to the next book in this series, Fuse.