Saturday, February 18, 2012


Pure (Pure, #1)Pure by Julianna Baggott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pure was deliciously dark and twisted, but to me, it just wasn’t good enough.

Three women step out – all fused – a tangle of cloth hiding their engorged middle. Parts of each face seem to be shiny and stiff as if fused with plastic. Groupies, that’s what they’re called. One of the women has sloped shoulders, a curved spine. There are many arms, some pale and freckled, the others dark.

It took me about 120 pages to really get into this book – much more than it should have, of course. I always struggle with dystopias at first, but it’s usually for two or three chapters, not more than that. The beginning was very slow, and although I understand the need to build the atmosphere, especially in a book whose main goal seems to be to shock and repulse, I felt that it should have been done gradually, or at least differently. As much as I appreciated (though not enjoyed) the descriptions of people fused with objects or other people, I couldn’t help but wonder if that’s all I would ever get. Fortunately, things started moving just a little faster after those 120 pages, but Baggott still kept pressing the “pause” button on her action scenes in order to describe every little thing her characters came across. Everyone who knows me at least a little bit knows that I’m a big fan of descriptive writing when it serves to evoke a wide palette of emotion. My problem with Pure was that it aimed to evoke only one - disgust. After a hundred pages or so, it became extremely tiresome.

The story is told from multiple points of view. Oddly enough, the one I preferred, the one I could easily identify with, was neither Pressia nor Partridge, it was Lyda, the girl Partridge sort of liked, but mostly just used to get out of the Dome. I eventually started liking Partridge too, even though that took a while, but Pressia never really came alive for me. I still have no idea who she really is and how I’m supposed to feel about her. I would have loved to know more about the creatures she made to trade them on the market, but the one thing I wanted described in detail was just mentioned once or twice in passing.

As far as I’m concerned, the most important thing in a dystopian/post-apocalyptic novel isn’t the romance, the action, or even the writing – it’s social structure. You can be the most skilled writer on the planet, but if your society isn’t convincing enough, you will lose my interest before you can say ‘write a better book’. For me, this is where Baggott failed the most- I wanted to know more – more about the government on both sides (more outside the Dome), about how it all came to be, and especially about the day when the world went to hell in a handbasket. I want to know how Partridge’s father became the most important person in the world, the only real decision maker. Where were the old governments? Who exactly pulled the strings ever since Partridge’s parents were young? Instead of focusing on endless descriptions of Groupies and Dusts, I would have liked to see at least some of those questions answered. Unfortunately, the little information I was offered wasn’t nearly believable enough.

That doesn’t mean that Pure was all bad. There were things I liked a lot, especially the fact that it managed to surprise me a few times. In a genre where predictability is accepted and even expected, Baggott somehow included quite a few twists and turns that I never saw coming.
I think I would have liked Pure more if it were about a hundred pages shorter. It had its moments and I believe I will read book 2 when it comes out, but unfortunately, this one left a lot to be desired.

Favorite quote:
She glances back before stepping into the alley, and she catches her grandfather looking at her the way he does sometimes – as if she’s already gone, as if he’s practicing sorrow.


  1. Thanks for the review. I had very high hopes for Pure but the reviews I'm seeing so far are all a bit so-so. Too bad, but then not every book is perfect for every reader.

  2. I thought the whole idea of being fused to something was so darn strange and it definitely took me a little while to get used to it. I wasn't disgusted by it at any point though... I don't know what that says about me. :D Great review, Maja. I liked it more than you did and maybe when the next book comes out I can bully you into reading it. ;)

  3. Ohh, Sam, you can bully me into anything, darling. even pretending to like the name Daemon. ;)

  4. There's no need to pretend, Maja. We all know you DO actually like that name. ;)

  5. I agree with some things you said. It took me a bit to get into, and I would like more about the governments. So I agree with that. Good review.

  6. Okay, no. Dystopias are usually a "perhaps later" kind of book for me, and the faults you pointed out are more than enough to keep me away from this book. In this genre, I need to get a compelling and solid world, I need to be sucked in fast so that I'm not tempted away by paranormal / (urban) / fantasy, and I need to care about what's happening. It doesn't sound like pure could deliver on all those aspects so...

    Thank you so much for such a good and honest review!

    Ron @ Stories of my life

  7. Yep we agreed on a few points, I didn't buy into the explanations at the end and I too wanted more info on the Detonations and all that. I thought it was slow going but then some of the surprises were great. Hated the end it just ended without much of a finish. I thought the romance was so badly developed! It was an average read but I doubt I will continue the series!

  8. I think this was the second review I read about Pure that pointed the same things you did like how it was slow-going, not-so-great on the world-building etc. I still think I'd try this one out. I'm just too intrigued with the "fusion" stuff and it's dystopian. Yeah, I'm a sucker I know. Nicely reviewed, Maja! :D

  9. Yes, Maja! You are absolutely correct about the social structure. That's exactly why I lost interest in the Chemical Garden series after book one. Based on the your disappointment with the social structure in this one, I think I'll be skipping it. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts.

  10. I agree with you completely! I think I adored Lyda the most as a character, although I admired Pressia's strength the most for getting through what she did. :) And I found myself wanting to know more about everything too -- more about all those things that you mentioned! I guess I'm just crossing my fingers that Julianna will bring us more in the sequel! :)

    Amazingly honest and beautiful review, Maja! Even though it was really hard to digest (and I'll admit that it was kind of that way for me too!), I'm still glad you enjoyed parts of it and are planning to read book 2! Here's to hoping it will blow us away! ;) <3

  11. beautifully reviewd

    you rock

    i loved the world building . how gruesome it was/ i'm dude/i lov fear factor

  12. You snagged my interest with this post. I'm adding it to my list...thanks!

    Marlene Detierro (Quality Pocket Knife)


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