A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pure is the first in a post-apocalyptic YA trilogy and features plenty of grotesque imagery and several violent, bloody conflicts, a few that end in death or injury. In one scene a parental figure dies in a sudden, bloody manner. Characters use guns and knives to defend themselves, and there is a somber tone throughout. A few critical or questioning references to God and Christianity might upset some readers. Characters occasionally use strong language.
What's the story?
PURE begins many years after the Detonations -- a series of bombings that destroyed much of the world and caused everyday objects (and in some cases humans) to be fused with people. It's in this post-apocalyptic world that 16-year-old Pressia Belze, who can barely remember life before the Detonations, hides from the military police and occasionally gazes upon the Dome, where a small portion of the population was protected from the destruction (and remains physically \"pure\"). Pressia stumbles upon Partridge, the son of the mastermind behind the Detonations, who has escaped from the Dome in hopes of finding his mother. They join together with a defector from the Secret Police and an underground rebel to seek out Partridge's mother and in the process learn more about Pressia's mysterious past.
Is it any good?
Brisk, detailed, and strangely compelling, Julianna Baggott's first book of the Pure trilogy combines grotesque images with strongly moral characters who feel real despite their dystopian setting. As teens, both Pressia Belze and Partridge Willux are questioning their identities and developing their values. Driven by their internal sense of right and wrong, they fight to both uncover their personal secrets and find some justice in the midst of an unfair division between the "pures" and the "wretches," or those who were protected from the devastating Detonations, and those who were not.
Baggott's writing is particularly lovely, evoking tender feelings, heightened emotions, and the brutal landscape of her imagination. Teen and adult readers will be spooked by the gruesome imagery, but fascinated, too. Readers can draw connections between the items fused to each character (such a as a doll head fused to a hand) and that individual's personality, as well as connections between the moral issues related to power and corruption and real-life politics and culture. Running throughout the story is the teen-friendly theme of accepting yourself and being proud of what makes you unique.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about post-apocalyptic stories. Why are these kinds of stories so popular? Do you see any connections between current political or economic trends and the themes in this book? How is this dystopia different from others you've read about?
Talk about Pressia. What makes her a relatable character? Can you think of other literary heroines she resembles? What makes her different from others?
What makes this a YA book? Is it just because the main characters are teenagers?
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love dark reads
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.