A week or so after the Detonations—explosions that killed, burned, and poisoned the populace, as well as causing peoples' bodies to fuse and mutate, incorporating anything they happened to be touching when the blast occurred—a plane flew overhead, and dropped not another bomb, but a message:
We know you are here, our brothers and sisters.
We will, one day, emerge from the Dome to join you in peace.
For now, we watch from afar, benevolently.
Almost a decade later, Pressia is about to turn sixteen. Once she does, she has to make a choice: join the OSR—Operation Sacred Revolution, formerly Operation Search and Rescue—to become a part of their militia, or live the rest of her life on the run from them. But joining willingly doesn't necessarily mean safety: there are rumors that those who were altered by the Detonations—people like Pressia—are used by the OSR for target practice.
Partridge, meanwhile, is two months away from his eighteenth birthday. He was one of the lucky few who made it into the Dome before the Detonations. He made it, his older brother made it, and his father made it. His mother didn't.
Unlike Pressia, Partridge has grown up in relative comfort. He's well-fed, healthy, educated, and, as his father is a bigwig in the Dome, somewhat privileged even among the privileged. But then he finds out that his mother might still be alive. Out there, somewhere, outside of the Dome.
So he runs away.
Pure was originally published for the adult market, but it has obvious crossover appeal, what with the apocalyptic setting and the teenage protagonists and the Fight The Power storyline and the action and the conspiracy and the romance (EXTRA POINTS FOR THE LACK OF LOVE TRIANGLE!) and so on. It has a more sedate pace than most of the YA post-apocalyptic titles I've read—although, looking back, there really is a ton of action, with fire and fights and near-deaths and chases and escapes and sekrit plans, but somehow it still never feels fast-paced—however, once I was hooked, I read the whole thing in one go.
It starts slow, and the third person narration makes for a less-immediately immediate emotional connection with the characters than first person narration usually does, but it really works: the lack of ongoing commentary from the protagonists forces the reader to pay closer attention. To note details, to look for clues and foreshadowing, to piece together the backstory. Ultimately, I got so involved in the world and the characters that when A CERTAIN THING happened, I shrieked, "WHAAAAAT??" so loudly that Josh came running into the room because he thought I'd accidentally cut my finger off with my pocketknife or something.
That isn't to say that there wasn't foreshadowing—there was—because when THAT THING happened (well, after the shrieking), I was all, "oh, yeeeeeeeah, riiiight, I remember now". But it was woven in there so well and so organically—it didn't have the blinking neon arrow that foreshadowing sometimes does—that for me, it didn't track until after the fact. I realize that I'm making kind of a ridiculously big deal about such a tiny facet of the book, but I'm quite good at Predicting Stuff, and so it makes a big impression when I get surprised like that.
Juliana Baggott has dreamed up a scary future in Pure. And the scariest thing about it is that much of it has already happened, or is actually possible. Cheery thoughts for Christmas Day, eh? Wheeeee!
Book source: ILLed through my library.