Monday, April 23, 2012

MFA Greensboro Alum Julianna Baggott Reviewed, 'Pure'

Occupy Apocalypse: Julianna Baggott's YA Dystopia
PureChasing the recent trend of blockbuster YA dystopian novels, such as Suzanne Collins’s enormously successful Hunger Games series/franchise, Julianna Baggott’s Pure describes a world in the aftermath of a devastating and calculated nuclear apocalypse. This most recent work by a prolific writer of fifteen books of fiction and poetry follows the story of two young people—Pressia and Partridge—in a futuristic vision of San Francisco’s Bay Area. Baggott imagines the world of her novel with impressive depth, and the author’s take on the conservative capitalist apocalypse is by turns startlingly violent and impressionistically whimsical. While Baggott’s novel describes this world of hideous disfigurements and Manichean class war with inventive and engaging detail, the novel falls short of presenting characters that are believable and ultimately sympathetic. In laboring at length over the narrative construction of a complicated dystopian world, Baggott ends up sacrificing richness to complexity. This first novel of an eponymous trilogy wonderfully describes a dramatic, inventive post-apocalyptic world, but fails to people it with complicated, interesting characters. Pure gives the reader a general sense of the vast scope of the story’s machinations and geography, but no compelling reason to care.

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