Check out my review for Fuse, the sequel to Pure.
Winner 2013 Alex Award, the ALA’s award for “books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults.”
We’ve all read some version of this story. It’s yet another take on a dystopian/post-apocalyptic future, joining the countless others riding the coattails of The Hunger Games but never quite living up to it. It’s pretty similar in many ways to Hunger Games, Matched and Under the Never Sky, to name just a few. However…these books are totally my guilty pleasure, and this one didn’t disappoint.
Pure is set in a world razed by nuclear bombs and told from several points of view. There’s Pressia, one of the “wretches,” those who live in the post-bomb world, all of whom are scarred both mentally and physically from the blasts – most have fused with objects, people and animals from their surroundings when the bombs went off. It is a hungry, dangerous, hopeless world. Then there’s Partridge, a “pure,” part of the select group sheltered inside The Dome who were untouched by the blasts. Of course, the story throws them together and gives them a quest, complete with sidekicks, love interests, mystery, secrets, treachery and loss. Other characters chime in from time to time. Familiar territory, but still a great read.
Pure does manage to separate itself from the pack. There’s a grittiness to it, and an element of the grotesque in the descriptions of the wretches and their world, as well as other characters and creatures who pop up. It doesn’t suger-coat. It’s thought-provoking at times, and its horrors serve their purpose – the reader is left wondering how much of this could actually happen in the wake of a nuclear event, and I found myself Googling nuclear fallout. Even if the answer is that it’s fiction, it leaves a chilling impression. Especially in the wake of Fukushima…how worried should we be?
A good outside read for middle school or grade 9.
Author’s website: http://juliannabaggott.com/
Book website (a film is in the works): http://pure-book.com/
About the effects of nuclear weapons: http://www.atomicarchive.com/Effects/
The World Nuclear Association on Chernobyl: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Safety-and-Security/Safety-of-Plants/Chernobyl-Accident/#.UVjhdKucXJc
Story Men podcast featuring Julianna Baggott talking about Pure: http://www.storymen.us/julianna-baggott/
Sample essay prompts based on past MCAS Exam essay prompts:
1. Often in works of literature, a character earns the respect of his or her friends, family, or community. Select a character from Pure who earns the respect of his or her friends, family, or community. In a well-developed composition, identify the character; describe how the character earns the respect of his or her friends, family, or community; and explain how the character’s experience is important to the work as a whole.
2. Often in works of literature, the villain has the greatest impact on the story. In a well-developed composition, identify the villain of Pure and explain why the villain has the greatest impact on the story.
3. Often in works of literature, a character encounters a situation that requires courage. Select a character from Pure who encounters a situation that requires courage. In a well-developed composition, identify the character, describe how the character reacts to the situation that requires courage, and explain how the character’s actions are important to the work as a whole.