Pure: The Most Realistic Dystopian I’ve Read

Pure is written by Julianna Baggott. It was published in 2012 by Grand Central Publishing. Baggott’s website can be found here.


“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 solders 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.

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 home has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his lie to leave the Dome to find her.”

~Inside Flap

What I Liked:

Technically speaking, this book is very well-written and incredibly thought-out, from the world to the plot elements to the characterization. I loved the little reveals scattered throughout and the path Baggott decides to take her characters. I thought from the summary that it would be one of those “Two people from opposing groups meet and fall in love, blah blah blah” but Baggott doesn’t go that route. Pressia and Partridge don’t fall in love, which is incredibly refreshing even though the route Baggott goes with them isn’t exactly that original, either.

I also enjoyed watching Pressia’s growth, from her hiding her hand to openly showing it. Although YA tends to hit you over the head with things like that, rather than subtly interweaving it, I thought Baggott dealt with it more subtly than most.

This book is definitely not for the faint of stomach; there are numerous parts and descriptions that left me feeling squeamish and the results of the Detonations themselves are disturbing to picture. This book definitely doesn’t water down or numb the realities of nuclear warfare (Baggott is definitely basing this world after Hiroshima and Nagasaki), and the results are that this book feels like a post-apocalyptic world even more so than most dystopians. Most dystopians have a quasi-fantasy, alternate reality feel, but not this one. This one just feels real.

What I Didn’t Like:

The tense was very difficult to get used to; third person present tense is hard for me to read. As a result, it took me a while to get into the book.

I’m a bit confused as to what exactly happened to Sedge. I don’t think Baggott explained very well how that worked (I know I’m being vague, but I want to avoid spoilers since this book is built around little plot reveals).

Is there some point to Pressia and Partridge’s romances? I felt like Baggott just put those in there to pair them off with people since they aren’t actually paired with each other. There doesn’t have to be romance in every YA book.

Rating: 4/5

Recommended Age Range: 16+

Warnings: Swearing, disturbing and graphic images, violence

Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult



It’s darker in the ducts than he expected, and louder. The system is on, vibrating manically. He crawls as fast as he can. He has to make it to the first set of filters by the time the system stops. At that point, he’ll have only three minutes and forty-two seconds of downtime to make it through the first filter, the tunnels and the rows of fans, and at the end of that, the second barrier of filters. He’ll have to cut his way out into the world. That is, if he’s made it in time and the blades haven’t chopped him to death by then.
~Baggott 78-79

Pressia turns to El Capitan. “Why did you show me this?”

El Capitan stands up, stares at his boots. “Ingership sent your emergency orders.”

“Who is Ingership exactly?”

El Capitan gives a grunting laugh. “He’s the man with the plan.” He squints at Pressia. “I never got orders like this before—to take some runt and send ‘em up to officer, just like that. And a girl at that. Ingership wants to meet you—in person. And then there are these creatures, coming around. It has something to do with you,” he says accusingly.

“But I don’t know how it could have something to do with me. I’m nothing. A wretch, like everybody else.”

“You know something. You have something. They need you somehow.”

~Baggott 207

Overall Review:

I had a few small issues with Pure; I’m a bit confused on some of the plot details, and the pairing off of Partridge and Pressia doesn’t feel authentic to me, but overall I thought the world, the writing (minus the tense used), and most of the characterization was great. I’m not sure where the series is headed in terms of plot, but Pure had that hook that has me wanting to read more.

You can buy this here: Pure (The Pure Trilogy)

One thought on “Pure: The Most Realistic Dystopian I’ve Read

  1. Pingback: Fuse: O El Capitan, My El Capitan | Leaf's Reviews

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