Study Guide


By Julianna Baggott

Pure Introduction

We don't often have the chance to bring out our booming voiceover voice, but Pure definitely gives us an excuse.


In a world where people are fused together with the earth, everyday objects, and even each other, one sixteen-year-old girl fights against all odds to survive.

And we're not being hyperbolic here. The world of Pure is epically "in a world"-ish… except to talk about Pure you have two talk about two very different worlds. There's the world inside the Dome, where people were sheltered against radiation bombs (no fusings there, folks) and have adapted to their luck by forming a totalitarian state. Eeek. There's also the world outside the Dome, where people got fused to various things as a result of not being sheltered from the radiation bombs… and basically live in the middle of a free-for-all murder spree. Also: eeek. No wonder Pure won the New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 2012.

And that Mad Max-style premise gets even Mad Max-ier. Pressia is a sixteen-year-old girl with a doll's head fused to her hand. Partridge is a poor little rich boy from inside the dome, out to find his mom. Together they battle the elements (and people fused to the elements) and flee from the draconian overlords that hang out in the Dome.

Seriously. This is what this book is about. There is literally nothing boring to be found within Pure's covers.

What can be found, however, are a ton of questions left unanswered: who detonated all those radiation bombs? Who will win—the "pures" inside the dome or the scrappy "wretches" outside of it? And how do you ever get to sleep when there are a bunch of live birds fused into your back?

The reason these questions have no answers, though, is because Pure is the first of a trilogy, all penned by the brilliant Julianna Baggott. Baggott's literary output is totally impressive, but you might not recognize her name—she also goes by Bridget Asher and N.E Bode. Her first novel Girl Talk is a National Bestseller, and her novel The Miss America Family is a Boston Globe bestseller. She even writes poetry on the side. Color us jealous... and impressed.

But what's she's (in)famous for is creating a world that Entertainment Weekly calls "dark and wildly imaginative." How dark, exactly? Well, said that Pure "makes The Hunger Games look like a garden party." (Yikes. That's dark.)

Oh, and if you're a big fan of adaptations, you'll be excited to know that Karen Rosenfelt—the lead producer of the Twilight Saga—directed the movie adaptation of Pure. Yeah, that's a pretty big deal. We'll be watching the ash-filled dystopic world of Pure (and its myriad fused characters) through our fingers—this story ain't for the faint of heart.

But this story is for those who like their apocalyptic fiction bleak and their main characters as haunted as Frodo, as quippy as Han Solo, and as completely fierce as Imperator Furiosa.

What is Pure About and Why Should I Care?

The stars of this novel are as follows: a girl with a doll's head fused to her hand, a guy with a couple of live birds fused into his back, a man with his twin brother fused to his torso, a grandfather with an electric fan fused to his neck… and some rich guy who is forced to cut off his pinky.

In other words, this is a book starring a cast of characters that are practically all disabled. And you know what else? These characters are fiercer, more capable, more morally upright, more self-possessed, more self-sacrificing, and more kick-butt than any we've seen in a long time. They're heroes.

And they're heroes that not only accept, but also own, their disabilities. Sure, Pressia has a hard time with her doll's head hand—but it ends up being a super-helpful way of communicating when she's bugged by the enemy. Sure, El Capitan doesn't always like having his brother attached to his back (and imagine how his brother feels!)—but his bro not only helps him out during fights, but also anchors him emotionally. Sure, Bradwell probably gets annoyed if his back-birds wake up before he does—but they also make him feel as if he has wings, and a possibility of freedom.

Even Partridge, who has to lop off his own pinky (ouch) in order to prove his allegiance to his newfound gang, looks down at his hand and realizes that being a nine-fingered guy has become part of his identity, and his missing pinky is part of his history.

And boy is it refreshing to have a cast of imperfect heroes that revel in their imperfections. They wear their scars, doll's heads, birds, and brothers like badges of honor. After you read Pure, stroll to the mirror and check out what makes you feel insecure—be it belly fat, receding hairline, crooked teeth, scars, evidence of wounds or amputations, etc. We'll bet that you'll look at yourself in a different light, and see your imperfections as a marker of history, individuality, and powerful strength.

Or hey—maybe you'll be too riveted by the dystopic madness and fight-for-right storyline of Pure to do anything but dive right into the next installment in Baggott's trilogy. You do you.

Pure Resources


Julianna Baggott's Website
She has other books and poetry, too—like twenty of 'em.

The Official Website for Pure
Contains all of the latest, greatest news for the trilogy.

Facebook Fan-Page
Baggott's fan page on Facebook. News, news, self-promotion, and more news.

Movie or TV Productions

Pure: Coming to a Theater Near You.
A description of the in-the-works film adaptation of Pure.

Articles and Interviews

Interview for Pure
Get a glimpse into Baggott's mindset while writing Pure.

Learn More About Your Author
An general interview with Julianna Baggott


Trailer for Pure (2012)
Check out the trailer for the book.


Original Book Cover
Don't have the book? Check out what it looks like.

Been wondering what Bradwell's all about?

The Doll Hand
Here's what the doll-hand looks like on the big-screen so far.

Julianna Baggott
Want to know what the author looks like? (She doesn't have a doll's head hand.)