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.
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In this world, after the Detonations (atomic bombs) people either live in The Dome, a protected environment, or on the earth. Those not in the dome are all damaged in some way -- most fused to whatever they were standing next to or holding at the time of the explosions-- eking out an existence in the ruins of civilization, among dust and decay and dangerous mutated life forms. Once children reach the age of 16 they must surrender themselves to the OSR, a militia group that will take them as soldiers or use them as live bait. Here, Pressia, almost 16, lives with her grandfather in the back of an old barbershop. When she turns 16 she hides in a cupboard so she can care for her grandfather. In the Dome, Partridge, son of one of the leaders, lives an unhappy life. When he discovers his mother is not dead as he was always told he escapes to the earth to find her. Pressia flees the OSR and on the run hooks up with Partridge and from there the plot unfolds with one spectacular scene after another.
The various mutated life forms in this book are among the most imaginative I have ever encountered. Baggott writes in a breathtakingly visual way that allowed me to see them standing in front of me
I liked this book as much as The Hunger Games, maybe more so. The incredible setting, the likable characters, a plot that holds up and keeps you reading as fast as you can, all make for a highly enjoyable read.
I love a good post apocalyptic yarn as well as the next person, but this was too much. The hallmark of any good fantasy story is to take the world and make a consistant and believable change to it, then to set characters that people can relate to in that world. Everytime the story breaks away from the people and moves to exposition about the world you break the flow of narrative. Masterful storytellers make that transition in long bursts. Pages of exposition can be forgiven if you are not trying to follow a character through them. Julianna's Pure is a prime example of how not to do this, since small bits of exposition and world building are interspersed within the character arcs of each player. Other nits: trying to world build a current post apocalyptic world, and a pre apocalyptic world simultaneously. Long winding examinations on characters who will be minor characters at best. There may have been moments of genius in this book, but I really missed them.