Monday, February 27, 2012
"Pure" by Julianna Baggott
I received this book for review from Netgalley upon request. When I started reading it however, I wasn't very thrilled with it. I figured the reasons were two:
1. Because of the narration voice. It's third person PRESENT tense. I have never read a novel written from this perspective and it sounded distant. As if I was listening to a National Geographic film on the lives of antelopes and baboons. It just made me feel like I was miles away from the action, looking at the characters from binoculars as a silent spectator and nothing more. It was only after I finished reading the book that I figured the importance of this distance. It gives perspective of the characters that the close narration may otherwise obscure. I looked at Partridge, Pressia and Bradwell from afar, but I think I got to know them on a deeper level that I thought I would. It was as if the characters revealed themselves on their own, without the help of the narrator. And in my opinion, that was superb work.
2. The world-building wasn't what you usually see in a dystopan novel. The books of this genre that I've read always talk about perfect people. Yeah, they suffer through hunger and government control, but otherwise there's nothing wrong with them. They're beautiful, strong and unaltered in any way. "Pure" is the first novel I read that actually describes damage. It's grotesque, it's scary, it's really totally sad, but it feels true. After a war, there are casualties, though we never usually see them. There are maimed people, dead people, damaged people. Here, the majority of the population is suffering from the Detonations that almost ended the world. We see the casualties, we see the sick, we see the fused. It's tragic. At times it's too much, because it makes you think that it feels real. Too real.
There were lots of twists and turns, unpredicted most of the time, which was great because nowadays it's really easy to guess what's going on. Here, there was suspense and I really liked that. I loved the story, even though the beginning felt kind of burdensome. After the 10% though that changed. I started seeing the point of all the hiding, the action, the scheming. It was interesting and entertaining.
The difference between the Domed world and the world outside was clear cut. There was a solid line between the two which made it obvious that what was inside, what was pure and protected, hid evil, coldness and corruption. While the outside world, though it was grotesque, obliterated and sick, hid beauty, life and virtue. I liked that. One particular quote stuck to my mind. It goes like this "Beauty, you can find it here if you look hard enough."
Each of the characters started out on a mission of his or her own. One wanted to hide, another to escape. Each one only cared for themselves. They had their vision on the world in and the world out. Whether right or wrong, they didn't know, but they planned to explore it. In the end, they weren't separate people anymore. They were together, working for a common cause. Because they knew that one can't do much, but when there are more, anything could be accomplished.
*Partridge - I never got the feeling that he was a spoiled child. He acted mature from the very beginning. True, he didn't see some obvious things, but not everyone can. I loved how close he kept the memory of his mother. It felt intimate and precious.
*Pressia - she was a just a girl. Yet, she was also strong, stubborn and self-dependent. She wanted to be normal, pure, beautiful. And who could blame her? Don't we all want that? She wanted to live in a nice house, with her parents around, to have a pet and to go to school. All things that we have and never pay attention to. It's when we lose them that they start to matter.
*Bradwell - I think he was my favorite from the beginning. I loved his passion, loved his birds, loved his toughness. He was a guy with a spirit of survival. He was dead, so he could live.
*El Capitan and Helmud - I kept on thinking that Helmud isn't just a moron, and was pleasantly surprised to see him think on his own.
Even the minor characters were important, and I hope that I'll see more of them in the next novel.
All I can say is that it's a great read, intense and full of sadness. It's dark and deep and real. If you have a weak heart, it isn't for you. It's for strong people who realize the importance of life, sympathy and love.
I thought of giving this book a 4 star rating, but it's worth more. It's worth