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Pure by Julianna Baggott
Review by Gayle Surrette
Grand Central Publishing Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781455503063
Date: 08 February 2012 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Life is hard for the survivors of the Detonations. Pressia was very young when it happened and knows about the before time mostly from her grandfather. When the detonations happened, one of Pressia's hands fused with the head of her doll. She also got a series of scars around one eye. Her grandfather's throat fused with a small fan he held to cool the air. With no medical assistance these fusings are permanent. Everyone was changed in one way or another during and immediately after the detonation.

The only people to escape unscathed were those living or working in the Dome. At first there was hope that those in the Dome would come out to help the survivors, but they only sent a message saying they would watch from afar -- benevolently. Those left to fend for themselves have little love for the Pure in the dome -- imagining the perfect life they must live in their protected environment.

The story unfolds as Pressia nears her sixteenth birthday, on which she is supposed to turn herself in to the OSR to either become a soldier or to be killed, depending on how they classify her. If she doesn't turn herself in -- OSR soldiers will come looking for her. Meanwhile in the dome, Partridge is beginning to feel as if he doesn't fit in anymore. These two story lines give the reader two very different views of life after the Detonation.

Baggott has set this coming of age story for these two young people in the midst of a horrifying post-apocalyptic environment. Reader's slowly learn of the dangers that those living outside the dome face on a daily basis, with OSR's cullings, groupies, dusts, and other mutations. On the other hand, the safe life of the dome inhabitants is revealed to be very different with its own pitfalls and dangers.

Reading Pure is unsettling, in part because even in our present reality we can see the tendencies that would lead to such a world. The options that Pressia and Partridge encounter and the decisions they make are solidly grounded in the world they live in. We may or may not agree with their choices, but we can see that they grow out of the lives they've lived and the world they've inherited.

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