Review: Pure by Julianna Baggot

By Julianna Baggot
448 Pages
Published by Grand Central Publishing

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

Few dystopians disturbed me the way that Pure did. It’s almost a horror book, in fact. The descriptions of the survivors are really horrific and gross. People are fused together with objects, animals, other people, even the earth itself. To me, this is the scariest kind of dystopia, where it’s not just survivors vs. those who die. It’s survivors, survivors who survive but do not remain whole in some way, and those who die. This book focuses on that in-between group – those who aren’t dead but maybe should be. Few things creep me out, but this book did. In a huge way. Especially the dusts and groupies. Seriously terrifying.

Pressia is a strong heroine, and Partridge, Bradwell and El Capitan are great supporting characters. I grew to really care about all of them – even the ones who I initially thought I wasn’t going to like at all.

Pure is a brutal, brutal book. There’s just a sense of prevailing hopelessness about it. To say that Baggott doesn’t pull any punches is putting it quite mildly. This may turn some people off if they prefer the lighter side of YA, but it’s worth stepping outside of your comfort zone if that’s the case. That said, there is no lighter side of this book. It’s completely bleak. However, Baggott does offer a small ray of hope at the very end and it’ll be interesting to see where the next book goes.

Also? the lullaby that gets mentioned throughout the book is Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen, which is one of my favorite songs of all time. Major, major points for that.

4.25/5 Stars.

Leave a comment


  1. I’m not a dystopian fan and I really don’t like to be scared, so I don’t think this would be a book for me. Nice review though! 🙂

  2. I’ve heard about this book. I have an easily damaged psyche. I don’t think I could read it. Great review!


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