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Purity Is Overrated

Forever Young Adult Presents: A Review of Pure by Julianna Baggott

Purity Is Overrated

BOOK REPORT for Pure by Julianna Baggott

Cover Story: Wimpy
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Exposition Overload
Bonus Factors: Awesomely Creepy Gross Mutations, Dusts
Relationship Status: Bar Buddy

Cover Story: Wimpy

When you look at this cover, what do you assume this book will be about? A religious girl's sexual awakening? A battle between nature nymphs and fairies? One teen's crusade to save the environment? Well, surprise, suckas! The story is actually about a nuclear apocalypse that creates a race of seriously effed up, totally gross mutant humans. I KNOW! Why aren't they on the cover? I'm sorry, but if I was the designer, and I had that much awesome material to work with, I wouldn't puss out with a little old butterfly! I would slam some creepy looking shizz on that cover! And then you would see it at the book store and be like, "WHOAH, LOOK AT THAT CREEPY SHIZZ!" and buy it immediately. Instead, you'll see the actual cover at the book store and sigh wistfully, saying, "That coulda been some creepy shizz right there..."

The Deal:

You know those old film reels of bomb drills, where kids would hide under their desks? I have a feeling that Pressia Belze would get a real good laugh out of those. She was just a tiny kid when the bombs (known as the Detonations) went off and killed a ton of the world's population, including her parents. The survivors weren't much luckier, finding themselves in a dead world of ash, their bodies permanently embedded with whatever was nearby-- glass, metal, even animals and other humans. Pressia got off easy-- just a scar under her eye and a doll's head encasing her hand. But now that she's turning 16, she has to focus not just on surviving, but on evading the OSR, a group that rounds up anyone over the age of 16 and delivers them to a darkly mysterious fate.

Meanwhile, Partridge (I KNOW, I KNOW, who made the law that dystopian books must feature terrible names and HOW CAN WE REPEAL IT?) lives a seemingly perfect life inside the Dome, where a select few fled before the Detonations. In spite of his relative comfort, he can't help but wonder about his mother, who never made it to the Dome, and what life is like on the outside.

BFF Charm: Yay

Pressia has an incredibly good heart, and in spite of all of the terror and atrocities she's witnessed, her compassion is a flame that never falters. She's tough but not badass, brave but not bold. She feels like a real girl, not some kickass action heroine, and in spite of the fact that I've never endured a bombing blitz, I empathized with her. But she's definitely got some baggage, so I wouldn't spring a slumber party on her right away. Instead, maybe we could start with some nice, long talks over coffee and maybe, eventually, we could see a movie together. A non-violent, non-scary, non-depressing movie. Pressia, how do you feel about rom coms?

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

So, there's this revolutionary dude named Bradwell who leads secret meetings underground and tells people about what actually happened before and after the Detonations. Bradwell is smart and angry and handsome (for a dude with birds embedded in his back-- NO JOKE), and while I could understand why Pressia might be attracted to him, I couldn't see it. I wanted the book to give me more-- tiny moments of tension, flashes of chemistry-- and it just... didn't. Though I hate to admit it, I was also kinda hoping for a love triangle, but for reasons I will not spoil for you, the book totally vetoed that idea.

But, with all of that said, this story isn't really about romance, so I didn't spend too much time missing the swoon.

Talky Talk: Exposition Overload

And here, my friends, is where I lost patience with this book. The world-building was so epic, the set-up so powerful, and then... all of the characters started telling me waaaaay too much information. Look, I'm all for a story explaining why the apocalypse happened or how the totalitarian government gained power. But when you stop all of the action and then spend a few pages letting Bradwell give me the entire back story (because he conveniently happens to know everything about it) in a "conversation" with another character, we have a problem. That doesn't feel natural! Why not drop some hints along the way instead of hitting me over the head with a buttload of exposition? I also found some of the character's voices to be inconsistent, and a few were downright laughable. Ultimately, it seems like Baggott got so consumed with building her story that she forgot to build the characters, resulting in a tragic waste of potential.

Bonus Factor: Awesomely Creepy Gross Mutations

This factor was HANDS DOWN my favorite part of the book. While I would hate to actually live in it, Pressia's post-Detonation world is packed with insanely loony disfigurements. There are people permanently fused together called Groupies and humans mashed together with animals called Beasts and there are moms with their children, like, submerged in their bodies and Y'ALL IT IS SO GROSS. I LOVE IT.

Bonus Factor: Dusts

So, technically dusts fall under the above category, but they're so scary and FREAKY, I had to give them their own bonus factor. Basically, some people were driven into the ground by the blast of the bombs, and since some of the bombs were laced with some kind of regenerative energy, these people stayed alive, fusing with the dirt and sand. So you might be walking along, minding yr own business, when all of a sudden, you see a human eye staring at you from the ground. And then, well, you probably get eaten. Sorry.

Casting Call:

So, Pressia is half white, half Japanese. I have no idea who to cast. Help?

The boys were pretty easy.

Jeremy Sumpter as Partridge

Ethan Peck as Bradwell

Relationship Status: Bar Buddy

This book is like that guy you see all the time at your favorite bar-- you're not friends, you would never date, but you always end up getting into an AWESOME conversation together when you're both drunk at 1AM. The things that come out of this book's mouth are INSANE, and even though it has a penchant for going on waaaay too long, it still manages to make you shriek with delight and spill a little of your vodka soda. Sure, you'll never go home with it, and you won't really remember the point of the conversation the next day, but for a brief moment, you'll be enchanted by its madness.

Want to cozy up to this book at the bar? Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy! Plus I'll send you the special surprise that came with the book... and scared the hell out of me.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Grand Central Publishing I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Pure is available now.

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).