Consider what's near you at the moment. Are you talking on a cell phone, looking out the window or driving a car? Is there a dog snuggled beside you or a baby in your arms? In the post-apocalyptic world of Julianna Baggott's new novel Pure, survivors are fused into hybrids by nuclear bomb blasts. Electronics melt into palms, glass embeds in faces, children attach to mothers' hips and machinery replaces body parts. Many are so altered, they barely resemble humans in body or mind.
Protagonist, Pressia Belze was six when the bombs fell. Her parents are killed in the blast and a doll head fuses over her hand. Now, sixteen she's running from the ruling militia who force teens to kill or be killed. Seventeen-year-old Partridge is a Pure, living in a domed-society, protected from the bombs. But privilege comes with a cost and Partridge isn't willing to pay it. He escapes the shelter and the bioengineered enhancements his scientist father requires of children to search for his mother who never made it to the Dome. Unprepared for the savage world outside, Pressia saves him from an attack. Then she's drawn into the search for his mom, and distracted, she's captured by the army.
The remainder of the book follows the teens on parallel paths as Pressia struggles to survive body and spirit, and Partridge continues his search. Along the way their beliefs about society's fall unravels, raising questions they can't ignore. Who set off the bombs and how were people selected for the Dome? Why is Pressia singled out by the militia leader and what role did Partridge's mother play in all this? You'll race to the end of the book to find out. Julianna doesn't reveal all. Pure is the first in a trilogy and she leaves just enough unanswered for readers to crave Book Two. I've read lots of YA dystopian. To the point I didn't think I could stomach another. But Pure captured me. I'm attached to Pressia and Partridge and already dreading the end of Book Three when their story comes to an end. The book has earned great reviews, including this detailed post in The New York Times. For more reviews and author insight, see Julianna's blog, Baggott, Asher and Bode.
When I attended Julianna Baggott's workshop at Eckerd College's Writer's in Paradise Conference two years ago, Fox 2000 had bought the film rights to Pure, the first book in Julianna's YA dystopian trilogy. The book sold shortly after and I'm excited to announce it's here!
I was familiar with Julianna's middle grade novels, The Anybodies series and The Prince of Fenway Park. I loved her intricate plots, quirky settings, odd characters and sense of humor, dark and rich like the best chocolate. Julianna's equally delightful in person; insightful, witty and passionate about writing. So I wasn't surprised by the powerful opening in her first novel for young adults. Pure is a vivid depiction of a post apocalyptic world. Protaganist, Pressia bears the scars of the bombings that destroyed civilization. She's lived most of her life among the ruins but carries early memories of a better past and wonders if the the unmarked people who dwell in The Dome are living that way still. Now, Pressia's about to turn sixteen, a dangerous milestone, one she's hoping she'll survive.
Congratulations to Julianna for this riveting new work. Go to Pure to read the book's opening and be sure to watch the trailer. Then tell me the girl with a doll's head for a hand doesn't intrique you.
I write middle grade and young adult books with a magical twist. And creatures, always creatures. I'm represented by the fabulous Leslie Zampetti of Dunham Lit.
Lorin Oberweger - Freelance Editor