To be a Pure is to be perfect, untouched by Detonations that scarred the earth, and sheltered inside the paradise that is the Dome. But Partridge escaped to the outside world, where Wretches struggle to survive amid smoke and ash.

The Pures are people who have been living in the dome, those protected from and unmarred by the Detonations that fused items to them and left them burned and scarred. The doll that Pressia was holding when the bomb diffused is fused to her hand. Bradwell has birds in his back. El Capitan’s brother is fused to him. The Dusts are a sort of human/earth hybrid, not only odd but dangerous.

Yes, it is as weird as it sounds. But it’s an oddly compelling and completely imaginative other world that author Julianna Baggott has created. It’s a dystopian world that is not just scarce on food or oddly violent, but weird and completely unlike our known world today — in a way that true sci-fi fans can appreciate (and probably don’t call “weird”).

I assumed that Pure was a book published for the Young Adult market: It’s dystopian fiction, the main characters are teenagers, and it’s a trilogy. Good assumption, right? It’s also written by Julianna Baggott, who has penned middle grade fiction (under the name N.E. Bode) as well as adult and YA fiction. However, after reading some reviews and noting the publisher (Grand Central Publishing), I realized it was published for the adult market, but obviously with much YA crossover potential and intent.

I had already given the book to my 14-year-old daughter to read when I realized this, so I hoped that it was appropriate for her. And in fact the content is far less objectionable than any YA I’ve read recently. There were probably a few swear words, but I don’t remember a lot, and I don’t remember any sort of sexual content either (beyond a kiss or two).

So why not YA? I can say that it does read like an adult novel. It’s darker and more serious with more of a focus on survival than flirting.

This is a long book, close to 500 pages, but it didn’t drag at all. The foundation is laid for the outrage and uprising of the Wretches against the powers that be who created a Dome for only a select few. We don’t exactly find out all the whys or hows, but I’m quite sure that more of that will be unfolded in the next installment, which both Amanda and I await.

Pure was released in paperback in September, and book two Fuse is set to come out in February.

Jennifer has become somewhat disillusioned with dystopias, but is always up for a unique novel with compelling characters. She’s always happy to share books with her children, and occasionally shares more parenting thoughts at Snapshot.


  1. says

    I agree — I think I have overdone dystopia recently, and have therefore tried to choose other types of books of late. But this one sounds so interesting, and different, I might just have to pick it up.

    I’m also waiting for the sequel to Cinder, which I don’t think of as dystopia but is somehow related.

    • says

      I haven’t read Cinder yet, but I keep suggesting it to my daughter when she’s looking for a book. We haven’t found it at the library lately.

      And yes, this one is different. It’s certainly dark with that same hopeless dystopian feel, but it sort of felt more sci-fi than just bleak hopeless America.

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