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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens


Pure is the first in a new dystopian trilogy that seems made for teen readers; film rights have already been sold.

Julianna Baggott has written a few books for young readers, but is best known for adult literary fiction and poetry. I had a chance to hear her speak at ALA Midwinter in January. She has a 16-year-old daughter who pretty much hates everything her mother writes. Except this. Baggott figures that is because the teen years ARE dystopic.

Laini Taylor (author of Daughter of Smoke and Bone) wrote about it wonderfully on her blog last week. The Huffington Post reviewer recommends Pure to readers of The Hunger Games.

Check out The Lost Archives of Pure, a British site that teens will enjoy exploring.

BAGGOTT, Julianna. Pure. 431p. Grand Central. 2012. Tr $25.99. ISBN 978-1-4555-0306-3. LC 2011046209.  Pure

Adult/High School–Baggott, also known as N.E. Bode, delivers an often disturbing but emotionally distancing dystopic adventure. In a post-apocalyptic future, a small protected society lives within a dome and everyone else lives outside. These “wretches” range from scarred to inhuman, the result of a nanotechnology-laced atomic detonation. Heroine Pressia, 16, has a doll’s head in place of one fist; revolutionary Bradwell has fluttering birds embedded in his back. Tensions abound in their world; the military OSR takes everyone over 16, food is scarce and health failing, and people either wait for the Dome to save them or fight against it. Meanwhile Partridge, a teenaged Pure from the Dome, is finding that things are not as he believed, and his journey to find the truth will take him into the outside world. Vivid descriptions–the once-suburban fierce mothers, stunted children fused to their bodies; the Dusts, people fused with the earth–will haunt readers long after the book is over. But the pacing is sometimes glacial, and it’s hard to relate to Pressia, the most prevalent narrative perspective (though most of the other perspectives are also teens). This has great potential as a crossover title (and might be mistaken for straight up YA), so while it doesn’t have the pulse-pounding appeal of crowd-pleasers like The Hunger Games, many teens will be willing to muscle past the slow parts and enjoy the complexities of plot and world; the fact that it’s first in a trilogy will only make the patient readers happier.–Karyn N. Silverman, LREI (Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School), New York City

Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.


  1. Diane Colson says:

    Thanks for a great review! Truly, the imagery in this novel is so keen and inventive that it will linger far longer than the specifics of the plot. I didn’t find the pacing slow, however. For me, this was one of those books that I hated to put down. Although it will be hard to avoid comparing any post-apocalyptic dystopian novel to Hunger Games, I found it more similar to Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series. Haunting descriptions, brutal violence, and a handful of young people who will not allow evil to win. Count me as a reader looking forward to the next volume!