Pure

Author: Julianna Baggottpure
Publisher: Grand Central Pub
Date: 2012
Genre: Apocalyptic fiction; Science fiction
ISBN: 9781455503063
Price: $15.00
Number of Pages: 416
Available Formats: Hardback, Paper back, E-book, Audio

Rating: 4Q, 4P

Links to Author’s Websites and Interviews

http://juliannabaggott.com/

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/12/how-i-write-julianna-baggott.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julie-a-carlson/juliana-baggott-interview_b_1258654.html
Links to Reviews

http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-4555-0306-3

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/julianna-baggott/pure2/

Reader’s Annotation

The world has been torn apart by detonations. The lucky ones are inside the dome while the rest must brave the outside.

Plot Summary

This post-apocalyptic novel centers on Pressia, a teenage girl who lives with her grandfather out in the ruined landscape of America after the world is destroyed by bombs. The survivors are deformed and have been fused with whatever object, person or animal they were next to when the detonations went off. Pressia, who was a child at the time, has been fused with a doll head on her right arm. She has just turned 16 and is worried about a military faction that rules the landscape and takes teens to serve the militia when they turn 16. The novel is also about Partridge, a 16-year-old boy who lives in the dome. The dome protects a large society of people who don’t suffer from deformity, as they were able to get to it before the bombs went off. Partridge is the son of the dome’s leader and accidentally finds out that his mother, who he thought was killed by the bombs, may still be alive on the outside. Partridge ends up meeting with Pressia and they team up to find his mom.

Critical Evaluation

I thought this book was very well done. It had a slow start, but once Pressia and Partridge meet, it really takes off and becomes very entertaining. It’s also very well written, with a lot of character depth and development thrown in. It’s really unlike any other post-apocalyptic book I’ve read. While there is action, the book is more concerned with the characters’ journey. The fusing aspect is also really unique and interesting. It’s not just thrown in to be different. It has a large impact on the story and really becomes a big part of the characters and how they deal with it. The character motivations and actions are all very realistic and understandable. The book also features several interesting side characters that could have been one-note but were luckily elevated to important roles. A great example of this is El Capitan. At the start, I thought he would end up being a one-dimensional villain. However, his growth into a better person was one of the most surprising and enjoyable parts of the book.

Appeal Factors

Atmospheric, bleak, YA appeal

Read-alikes

The Passage by Justin Cronin
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield

Awards & Lists

Alex Award: 2013
Booklist Editors’ Choice – Adult Fiction for Young Adults: 2012
New York Times Notable Books – Fiction and Poetry: 2012

Discussion Ideas

• Discuss how Pressia changes throughout the book.
• Discuss El Capitan and his relationship with his brother.
• Gender roles in the novel.

Justification of Selection

This was one of the read-alikes on NoveList for my Science Fiction group book. Once I read the summary I was immediately intrigued. It sounded different from any other dystopian or post-apocalyptic book out there, so I just had to check it out.

World War Z

Author: Max Brooksworld
Publisher: Crown
Date: 2006
Genre: Apocalyptic, Horror
ISBN: 9780307346612
Price: $14.95
Number of Pages: 320
Available Formats: Hardback, Paper back, E-book, Audio

Rating: 4Q, 5P

Links to Author’s Website and Interviews

http://maxbrooks.com/

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/23/magazine/max-brooks-is-not-kidding-about-the-zombie-apocalypse.html?_r=0

http://www.npr.org/2012/09/07/160758839/what-college-kids-can-learn-from-the-zombie-war

Links to Reviews

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/max-brooks/world-war-z/

http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-307-34660-5

Reader’s Annotation

World War I and II have nothing on World War Z.

Plot Summary

This book chronicles the progression of the great zombie war. The novel begins with how zombies first started to appear in China and how it slowly started to spread throughout the world through various ways. The story tells multiple perspectives, including American soldiers, Israeli political leaders and innocent bystanders. The story chronicles how the war began, what happened during the war and how it concluded.

Critical Evaluation

I listened to this book in audio format and I’m really glad I did. I think this book lends itself to the format better than any of the other books I listened to. The multiple perspectives made for a fantastic cast of voice actors. I especially enjoyed Martin Scorsese’s and Mark Hammil’s roles. The big Battle of Yonkers chapter is one of my favorite in the story. It is the perfect example of what makes this book so great, as it is easily one of the scariest, most suspenseful scene. Although I enjoyed this book for the most part, I don’t see myself reading a book in this format again. I much prefer a more linear story with a central protagonist. Still though, I’m glad I experienced this book.

Appeal Factors

Bleak, fast-paced, compelling

Read-alikes

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

Blackout by Mira Grant

I am Legend by Richard Matheson

Awards & Lists

Audie Award in 2007

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

USA TODAY BESTSELLER

WALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER

Discussion Ideas

  • Discussion of the storytelling format and multiple perspectives.
  • Discussion of the gender roles in the novel.

Justification of Selection

I read this book because I have always heard such great things about it. I am a huge zombie fan, but I had originally stayed away because I knew it wasn’t a linear story with a few main characters, but rather a set of separate accounts of the zombie war. I wasn’t sure if this would appeal to me, but I’m glad I read it and even happier that I listened to the audiobook.

After the Fall, Before the Fall and During the Fall

Author: Nancy Kressafter
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Date: 2012
Genre: Science Fiction
ISBN: 9781616960650
Price: 14.95
Number of Pages: 189
Available Formats: Hardcover, paperback, E-Book

Rating Scale: 4Q, 2P

Links to Author’s Website and Interviews

http://www.sff.net/people/nankress/

http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/kress_interview/

Links to Reviews

http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-61696-065-0

http://thebooksmugglers.com/2012/05/book-review-after-the-fall-before-the-fall-during-the-fall-by-nancy-kress.html

Reader’s Annotation

The world has fallen and only a few survived. Can time travel be the solution?

Characters/Location

Pete

McAllister

Julie

Gordon

Summary

This is a bleak science-fiction book that takes place in three different time periods. The book is set around an apocalyptic event, with the book taking place before, during and after the event. The main character from after the event is a 15-year-old boy named Pete, who is one of only six children that are still alive on earth in the year 2035. All of the remaining people have been forced to live in a small, shell-shaped building. Through Pete, the reader learns that aliens have destroyed the earth and have placed the survivors there with the means to survive. However, the problem is that they are having problems reproducing. Most of the time, they miscarry. When children are born, they are usually severely deformed. Pete has some physical deformities but still manages to get around. One of the things that the aliens have provided is a time-travel machine for them to go back in time to steal items they might need. However, they are also stealing babies so that the human race can survive. Pete and the other surviving children are the only ones that can use the machine. Back before the event, the main character is a woman named Julie Kahn, a brilliant FBI consultant. She has found a pattern in the child abductions that have taken place and is attempting to trace when the next abduction will occur so they can capture the kidnapper. However, as the months go on, Julie begins to realize that the abductions are not what they seem.

Critical Evaluation

Although this book isn’t something that I would re-read, there is no denying that it is extremely well-written and thought-provoking. The characters are fascinating, especially Pete and the other survivors. The survivors are all very well-drawn and Kress does a good job describing their bleak existence. You get a real sense of their sorrow and desperation. Pete, although very abrasive at times, is also very sympathetic. In 2013, Julie Kahn is not as interesting a character because Kress doesn’t delve as much into the character. It’s not until the end of that book that Julie gets more page time and begins to shine more as a character. It wasn’t until then that I felt any connection toward her. The premise of the novel is very interesting but proved to be both confusing and a little disappointing. I had wanted the cause of the apocalypse to be different than it turned out to be. However, I recognize that this is just my personal preference and that it is still an impressive work.

Significance of Book

This is an award-winning science-fiction title. The characters are fully fleshed out and believable. The time travel is well-done and the environmental issues raised are fascinating.

Read-alikes

Pure by Julianna Baggott

Ark by Stephen Baxter

Dr. Futurity by Philip K. Dick

Awards and Lists

2012 Nebula Award Winner

2012 Locus Award Winner

2013 Hugo Nominee

2013 Sturgeon Award Nominee

Discussion Ideas

  • Discussion of the Gaia theory presented in the book
  • Discussion of the “villains” of the book
  • Discussion of the “during the fall” part of the book

Justification of Selection

What interested me about this story was that it merged both a post-apocalyptic narrative with aliens. The environmental issues also seemed interesting. I was more than curious to see how Kress would merge these different aspects.