Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pure by Julianna Baggott

While most book-lovers know about the Caldecott, the Newbery, and the Printz, the American Library Association actually has a whole host of book awards for that they give out each January.  One of these, the Alex Awards, is given each year to “ten books written for adults that have special teen appeal.” 

One of this year's recipients, Pure, is set in a not-so-distant, post-apocolyptic future United States (in the DC suburbs, to be specific).  A series of detonations has taken place about 10 years earlier, and the survivors are all living with deformities or “fusings” as a result.  For example, sixteen-year-old Pressia has the head of a baby doll fused to her hand.

When we meet Pressia, it is on the eve of her 16th birthday, and she is attempting to hide from the OSR – a militia-like group that takes teenagers and turns them into soldiers, most of whom are never heard from again.

At the same time, we meet Partridge, a boy of about 18, living in the Dome – a totally contained, self-sufficient bubble built to protect its inhabitants from the detonations.  His father, the leader of the Dome, is barely involved in his life, his older brother has committed suicide, and his mother was believed dead after the detonations years earlier.  But when he begins to find clues that his mother might still be alive, he hatches a plan to leave the Dome behind and search for her.

Baggott has created a dark and twisted world, and this is a highly-intriguing start to a trilogy (the second book, Fuse is out now, with a third to follow in 2014).  The visual imagery really brings this world to light, and it’s no surprise that film rights for the novel have been acquired. 
Pure is available from VBPL print, audio CD, and downloadable audiobook, and it is highly recommended for older teens and adults, especially those who loved The Hunger Games, and other dystopian teen novels such as Divergent and Delirium.   (Keep in mind, that while the characters are teens, this series is dark and gruesome in parts, and might be nightmare inducing for younger readers… this is published as adult fiction after all)

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