Burn by Julianna Baggott
I’ve been sitting on this review since I read the book in December, first because I was too excited and then because I had trouble putting into words my thoughts on the ending. Burn is the third book in the Pure series following siblings Pressia and Partridge. You can see my review for Pure linked below. Rather than getting into the story and ruining the first two books for those who haven’t read them, I want to talk about creating worlds and finishing series.
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And here you thought I was through with my book recommendations for the year! I couldn’t do another Christmas guide without mentioning my favorite YA books for the year. Most of them I’ve read within the past 10 months or so but a few old-school favorites made it onto the list.
1. Secret Letters by Leah Scheier : Victorian setting + strong female character + Sherlock Holmes-ian mystery? Count me in! This is the book that I thought The Name of the Star would be — and this time I wasn’t disappointed. Scheier is a genius with words: the story is fast-paced and enticing. My biggest disappointment with this book was realizing the sequel won’t be out for far too long. As a side-note, this is a YA version of Dust and Shadow by Lyndsey Faye that I reviewed earlier this year and mentioned in my books I recommend post.
2. Pure by Julianna Baggott: I’ve already reviewed this one on my blog but it was so stellar it warranted mentioning again. Baggott writes in the vein of Collins, Roth and Condie, making the book an excellent addition to any fan’s collection.
3. Looking for Alaska by John Green: As a Kenyon alumna I’m practically required to be a John Green fan; luckily for me, his novels are spectacular! I had to read Looking for Alaska as part of my YA Literature class (INLS 530) and I’m so glad it was a requirement. The story is so heartbreaking, “coming of age” done correctly. Drop everything and go pick it up, now!
4. Divergent by Veronica Roth: Another book for those Hunger Games fans, Roth writes about a post-apocalyptic US where families have been replaced with groups called factions. Teens are tested and placed into a faction based on their abilities, but once they get there the teens are forced to prove themselves. Terrifying in the way the Hunger Games are, the series is a way to keep Collins fans reading.
5. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak: I came late to the party on this one! It came out ages ago but it bears mentioning here. The story follows a young girl in WWII Germany who learns about the power of words through stolen books.
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Pure by Julianna Baggott
Published February 2012
Summary: It’s post-apocalyptic! (Note: this may seem novel at this point but once I post a few reviews you’ll start to notice a trend. I have a real think for post-apocalyptic YA and lucky for me there’s a lot of it. ) The world as we know it ended with a nuclear explosion. Some were able to escape the nasty fall-out by going into the Dome, a sort of biosphere with genetically engineered everything. Those who were left on the outside were disfigured and became part of whatever was around them at the time of the explosion. Enter Pressia and Partridge (ignore their names, yes they’re weird). Pressia grew up in the desolate landscape outside of the dome. She has a doll fused to her hand and lives in fear of the dangers lurking outside her door. Partridge grew up in the Dome and had the privileged life of a leading politician’s son. Both think the grass is greener on the other side.
Bechdel Test?: Surprisingly it passes with flying colors! Pressia befriends the wife of another politician and they have several interactions about how to overthrow the current system. Even better? Pressia’s mother isn’t entirely absent.
Series Potential?: Sure! There’s a lot more to be unpacked about the politics of the Dome and I would love to see more about what made Patridge’s father become as he is.
For a post-apocalyptis YA it’s original and so interesting. It’s hard not to compare Pressia to Katniss Everdeen with all of the Hunger Games hype right now. This doesn’t necessarily bother me–I like to think the YA world is big enough for more than one kick-ass female hero!