Friday, February 10, 2012

PURITY by Jackson Pearce

As I mentioned on Monday, Jackson Pearce is one of the biggest reasons I re-fell in love with Young Adult books. I had been focusing my book-purchasing choices on adult sci-fi/fantasy books for the last couple of years when one of my NaNoWriMo people (I was an ML) retweeted something she'd written. It made me laugh, so I started following her, watched all her YouTube videos, became a fan.

Anyway, I'd always been a fan of teen literature when I was a teen. And to be honest, I thought that I should be headed away from that. I was an adult. I should read adult-ish things. But her humor and honesty – not to mention her writing – made me realize that it didn't matter what age I was, I enjoyed reading YA.

So, thank you, Jackson. I hope to one day be able to call you a colleague.

Okay. On to the actual review.

PURITY by Jackson Pearce 

Reviewer's note: I received an ARC of PURITY from the publisher. (Thank you so much!) That, and my love of the author have not influenced my review. And, as always, it is spoiler-free as much as possible.

From Goodreads: A novel about love, loss, and sex -- but not necessarily in that order.

Before her mother died, Shelby promised three things: to listen to her father, to love as much as possible, and to live without restraint. Those Promises become harder to keep when Shelby's father joins the planning committee for the Princess Ball, an annual dance that ends with a ceremonial vow to live pure lives -- in other words, no "bad behavior," no breaking the rules, and definitely no sex.

Torn between Promises One and Three, Shelby makes a decision -- to exploit a loophole and lose her virginity before taking the vow. But somewhere between failed hookup attempts and helping her dad plan the ball, Shelby starts to understand what her mother really meant, what her father really needs, and who really has the right to her purity.

Plot: I love the premise of PURITY, even if it's a little far-fetched. I have never met a teen that was so set on not breaking promises before, but then again, I have never met a teen who made promises to her dying mother before. So, I'm willing to let it slide. Passed that, and with a little willing suspension of disbelief, the story is one that's instantly grabbing. Here is a girl who has only five weeks to lose her virginity. She has to tackle a variety of obstacles such as a disapproving best friend (who is also male, I might point out), the ability to convince a boy to HAVE sex with her in a manor that she's willing (ie - condoms) and wether she can get the deed done by the dreaded Princess Ball. The story was fast-paced and dappled with dramatic, hilarious and well-crafted scenes.

Characters: There are about four main characters: Shelby, her best friend Jonas, her other friend Ruby, and her dad. Despite the fact that Shelby lost her mother, I think she is instantly relatable. Here was a girl who is trying to do right by both her parents, and herself, and trying to find any loophole she can. I mean, what teen do you know that hasn't tried to find loopholes around their parents? Jonas is the quarky best friend character who has a penchant for making lists. He immediately fell into the guys-I-want-to-be-around list. Ruby is such a fun character with her sassy attitude that made her a great balance to Shelby, who's a bit more reserved. And Shelby's Dad was a bit watery at first – but that's to be expected. The story is told from Shelby's pint of view, and Shelby doesn't have a good handle on her dad. They aren't close. But even in the watery beginning, I could tell there was so much more to him than Shelby was seeing – a true testament of Jackson's craft.

Themes: This book (shockingly) deals with sex. So deal with it. It's just a fact of life that teens are pressured into these types of decisions and they have to consider it, so it's not like this stuff doesn't happen. I think Jackson handled it tastefully, and it isn't at all pornographic, so please don't rate it on that. But that being said, if you're going to hate it for sexual content, maybe it's best if you consider something else. Surprisingly though, there was a bit of a religious aspect to this novel that I wasn't expecting. But it's not in that holier-than-thou slap Christianity in your face type of thing. It's about a girl who's still dealing with the death of her mother and struggling with her faith because of it. It's something that I think a lot of people go through in the darkest times of their lives. And it isn't the main theme, so keep that in mind.

Writing: Jackson has this habit of writing the way I think. Her characters don't use overly-flowery language that makes me instantly think "pretentious," and yet has such a beautiful way of crafting these drop-dead gorgeous moments. The construction of the book is not in chapters but in countdowns: ie, 30 days before; 15 days before; 3 hours before, etc. It drives home the idea of this impending deadline and really pushes the book forward. I loved it.

Overall: I'm giving PURITY 4.5 STARS OUT OF 5. I really liked the book, so I just couldn't give it a four. It wouldn't have been fair. And I don't give out that many fives. Overall, this was a quick, easy book that I enjoyed reading. It took me about four days (between writing and work, which was surprisingly good for me).

PURITY goes on sale April 24, so you can pre-order at Barnes and Nobel, Amazon or at your local indie book stores. Please consider doing so, or picking it up the first week it comes out. Because it will be a fun read.

Jackson Pearce Online: