01 April 2013

Review: Fuse by Julianna Baggott

Note: For the sake of my sanity, this review assumes you've read Pure.

When I reviewed Julianna Baggott's Pure, I concluded with this sentence: "Julianna Baggott's fresh take on dystopian America makes Pure a standout in the genre. It's no wonder it was an Indie Next pick for March 2012."

We all know about the middle book of a trilogy. It's so often a disappointment because nothing much happens or the author seems to have lost his or her way or the world building and characters stagnate. Sometimes I find that I've simply tired of the concept and could have happily stopped after book one.

Once again, Julianna Baggott has broken free from stereotypes. Fuse, the second installment in the Pure trilogy, is not just more of the same. Both inside and outside the Dome, the world after the Detonations continues to surprise and fascinate.

As you may recall, Baggott focuses on five characters, each with very different backgrounds and thus with divergent opinions on how best to survive the horrors of the destroyed earth. How these people came together is the story of Pure.

How they work as a group--first to sort out truth from rumor, fact from propaganda and then ultimately to attempt to expose the person responsible for the Detonations--is the story of Fuse. Like the first book, the second is told from the alternating viewpoints of the main characters.

Fuse has no fairy tale plot. The group doesn't miraculously coalesce, forming a crack super-power team. Instead, our heroes don't always agree and often have different goals. For example, Pressia wants to help others and find a cure for the fusings. But Bradwell thinks the fusing are something to accept; that they are now part of life. Instead he seeks retribution or revenge.

In addition, all the characters are affected by their experiences and by what they learn about the Detonations and the world around them. For example, Lyda, a Pure from the Dome, has slowly overcome her fear and disgust of the Wretches and is beginning to see them as equals. Now, despite the luxuries she had growing up, she can't imagine returning to her old, protected existence under the watchful eyes of the Dome.

Perhaps the most interesting character in Fuse is El Capitan and his brother, Helmud. Yes, they are in some ways a single person, seeing as Helmud is permanently fused to El Capitan's back. Although Partridge may have the harshest truths to face, it is the two brothers who are most transformed by the circumstances of this second novel.

As I mentioned in August, Baggott's dystopian world is like none you're ever encountered. Fortunately, instead of resting on her laurels, Baggott continued to develop the post-Detonation world of her novels. When the protagonists enter new territory, they are confronted with new environmental challenges and meet new Wretches with their own sociocultural norms. In this and many ways, the plot remains fresh and startling.

Don't expect a simple story line in which the group agrees on a agenda and then sets out to implement it. Despite compromises and the best laid plans, the realities of the dystopian world and the main characters' individual personalities sometimes interfere, and not everything goes as it should. In fact, each of the five are affected by a unique mix of intense emotions tempered by the necessity to remain practical and focused. And these are the details that keep us invested in the characters' futures.

Julianna Baggott's Fuse is an action-driven novel of survival in a terrifying world.The second in a trilogy, the novel retains the fascinating and exciting feel of the first book and harbors a few surprises.

I listened to unabridged audio edition (Hachette Audio; 16 hr, 44 min), read by Khristine Hvam, Casey Holloway, Kevin T. Collins, and Pierce Cravens. Fuse is told from alternating viewpoints, and the four narrators each take one of those parts. Although one of the narrators was not as expressive and as smooth as the others, the overall performance was engaging and properly emotional (or not). Listeners will easily be able to connect to both the action scenes and the internal musings of the characters.

This post will be linked to Kid Konnection, hosted by Julie at Booking Mama.

Buy Fuse at an Indie or at bookstore near you. This link leads to an affiliate program.
Hachette Group / Grand Central Publishing, 2013
ISBN-13: 9781455503087
Rating: B+

Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


Sandy Nawrot 4/1/13, 10:31 AM  

I could have gotten Pure at SIBA a couple of years ago and didn't, and that just annoys me. I read "Which Brings Me To You" and I absolutely fell in love with it, so why I didn't grab the first installment I'll never know. I'm going to see about the audios.

caite 4/1/13, 1:28 PM  

Second in a SERIES?
I don't know...lol

Zibilee 4/1/13, 2:13 PM  

I have Pure, and just got it back from a friend, who I lent it to many months ago. I need to read it, but I want to see if I can get it on audio. Both parts, actually. If not, I will give that paperback a try. He says it was an amazing read!

Daryl 4/2/13, 9:10 AM  

such an excellent book .. often its hard to remember these characters are teen aged ... i did however have BIG issues with Pressia's action ... to show how deeply involved i was, i yelled WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!!!!! and got a reaction from my husband ..

Anonymous,  4/3/13, 11:30 AM  

I really liked Pure so I definitely plan to get to this one at some point. So glad to hear it's great.

Unknown 4/3/13, 4:36 PM  

I really enjoyed Pure, and was excited when my ARC of Fuse arrived, but for some reason I've not managed to find time to read it yet.

Laura at Library of Clean Reads 4/6/13, 9:00 AM  

I saw this one at the library and was tempted to borrow it when I realized it was the second book. So now I really want to read PURE.

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