By Julianna Baggott

(Grand Central, $25.99, 448 pages)

Who is this author?

I first read Julianna Baggott when she collaborated with Steve Almond to write the terrific novel-in-letters, “Which Brings Me to You.” It’s one of 18 books she has published during the past dozen years – some under her name and others under the pen names Bridget Asher and N.E. Bode (yes, that is pronounced “anybody.”) She is a poet, novelist and essayist who writes for adults and children, and she is an associate professor at Florida State University’s Creative Writing Program.

Her latest, “Pure,” is a dystopian Young Adult horror novel with crossover appeal to older readers and to readers of any age who are fans of the “Hunger Games” trilogy. Fox 2000 has already acquired the film rights to “Pure,” which is the first of a planned trilogy.l

What is this book about?

It’s about a world you wouldn’t want to live in, but will be hooked to read about.

Civilization worldwide has nearly been stamped out by nuclear blasts known as “the Detonations,” and people are largely divided between the “pures,” healthy survivors living under protective Domes, such as a young man named Partridge, and “wretches,” scarred and deformed by the blasts, such as a teenage girl named Pressia, who has a doll’s head fused to her arm where her hand once was, just as others were fused to objects they were holding when the world melted down. When Partridge, who believed his mother died a hero during the Detonations, hears that she may be alive, he ventures outside the Dome, into a world where teens must become soldiers – or live targets. Then he meets Pressia, and the novel takes off.

Why you’ll like it:

Baggott is a skilfull writer, and this novel shows off her imagination and ability to create memorable characters. It’s not easy to write solid science fiction – whose unbelievable aspects must, in fact, be quite believable – but she handles that hurdle with ease. Stories about teens coming of age, overcoming obstacles and finding a moral center are always compelling, and the critics are saying this one is very much so.

What others are saying:

 “Baggott’s highly anticipated post-apocalyptic horror novel … is a fascinating mix of stark, oppressive authoritarianism and grotesque anarchy. Baggott mixes brutality, occasional wry humor, and strong dialogue into an exemplar of the subgenre,” says Publisher’s Weekly in a starred review.

“As fantasy novels tend to do, Baggott’s tome labors under heavy influences — not just Tolkien, the lord of the genre, but also Rowling, comparisons with whom are inevitable. William Golding’s and George Orwell’s and even H.G. Wells’ spirits hove into view from time to time, too. Yet Baggott is no mimic, and she successfully imagines and populates a whole world, which is the most rigorous test of a fantasy’s success,” says Kirkus Reviews.

“From the first page to the last I was hooked by “Pure”’s vivid and visually stunning world. If you’re a fan of books like “The Hunger Games,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “1984,” you’ll get a kick out of “Pure.” Not only is it imaginative and clever, it’s filled with frightening possibilities. “Pure” is science fiction at its finest,” says Julie A. Carlson for The Huffington Post.

When is it available?

It’s in the stacks now at the Downtown, Blue Hills, Dwight and Mark Twain branches of the Hartford Public Library.

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