Not So Pure and Simple is a story about a high school junior named Del who has had a crush on a girl named Kiera for a very long time and what he decides to do when she and her boyfriend suddenly break up. Just from the summary, the story may seem kind of cheesy but also like it would have the potential for a lot of humor. Now, it definitely has some humorous parts, but to be honest, I found the book to be kind of mediocre. And disclaimer: this book should not be read by those who are not young adults or older, as it does have some explicit content.
Alright, let’s start with the negatives of the book. The first main drawback I felt was how the author kind of failed to make me really care about his characters. Take Del, our main character, for instance. The author describes Del on some sort of mission to “get Kiera” throughout the entire book, but there’s really nothing about Del’s actions that make me really feel anything for him other than realize that he’s a highly desperate teenage boy. I feel like the author does a better job with Jameer, one of the other teenage boys who goes to the same church as Del throughout the story, but even with him, the scenes centered on him are way too short. And as to Kiera, as the reader, I don’t grow to understand really anything about her other than the fact that a lot of guys at her high school find her attractive. But of course, the connection between readers and the characters is something that can differ for everyone, so don’t let it hold you back.
Secondly, in terms of theme and the overall message the book was trying to send, I felt like it just wasn’t focused. In one part it would focus on the message of how Del’s obsession with trying to “get” Kiera is unhealthy for him and for her, but in another, it would focus on the Church’s doctrine about sexuality. It would just flip and flop between these two (and perhaps some other minor themes) all throughout the novel. Obviously, a book doesn’t have to stick with just one theme, but I felt that Giles didn’t do a good job of trying to communicate numerous ones.
On a brighter note, I did find some humor mixed into parts of the story, specifically the parts where Del is trying to express his feelings for Kiera to her and where Jameer calls him over to his house to talk about Kiera. But overall, I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed, as I thought there would be more of a humorous element to the novel. I would have also been more impressed had the conveyance of the author’s intended themes been better, but unfortunately, I felt it to be lacking.
In conclusion, I’d say that Not So Pure and Simple is not a bad read for the casual reader but definitely not one of the best ones out there. I appreciated the fact that the author tried to include some important messages in his book but didn’t think he did it in the best way. If you feel like the brief summary I provided in the intro was intriguing enough, though, I encourage you to give it a shot. Perhaps you’ll be able to better connect with the story based on your experiences. Enjoy!
Review By ~ Andrew