“We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost–how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.
Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked: Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss–maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.
When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.”
It’s impossible to read Pure and not compare it to The Hunger Games. I mean, it’s emblazoned all over the cover for a start, just in case you were to miss all the other comparisons, which you can’t possibly do. So, how does it hold up? Well, here’s the thing, Pure *should* wipe the floor with Hunger Games; it’s more adult, the world-building is far superior, the politics are more detailed and complex and it’s darker and more disturbing. And yet, it completely lacked that ‘up-all-night-to-find-out-what-happens’ vibe that The Hunger Games series is oozing with, and I couldn’t work it out initially, but I’ve mulled it over and I think I can now explain why. Charaterisation. Lack thereof. I genuinely couldn’t give a flying doo-dah about Pressia, or Partridge, or Bradwell. Whilst I did really enjoy the concept here, and I found the politics and societal aspect interesting, the characters really did nothing for me. Oddly enough the only character in the novel who caught my attention at all was Lyda, although El Capitan came close. The rest were just cut-outs really. Nothing there to grab me. I often got bored during long spells of dialogue or travel. They just weren’t interesting enough to spend all that time with.
I did like the fact that this is YA that teenagers will have to work at, it’s not simple ‘fluff’, and whilst a lot of the political messages are trite and predictable there’s plenty in there that could tax younger readers and I always, always think that’s a good thing. It definitely picks up points there. But for me, this was just a pure and simple characterisation fail. For readers like myself who are all about character-driven fantasy, I believe this one will fall far short of the mark. Which is a shame, because it could’ve been, and should’ve been, something really special.
I won’t be spending time, or money, on the sequel.