Study Guide

Burn

By Julianna Baggott

Burn Introduction

Seriously, has there ever been a more aptly-titled book? Sure, Moby-Dick is about a big whale named Moby-Dick. A Tale of Two Cities spans a couple of cities, and is indeed a tale.

But Burn?

Among the things that this book lights on fire—literally and figuratively—are: the Dome, the world outside the Dome, the passions of its characters, the guilt of the Pures, the spirit of revenge of the wretches, and the entire YA industry.

We're surprised that every other writer didn't just throw up their hands and say "Welp. Juliana Baggott did it. It's a perfect trilogy. We can quit now," when Burn hit the shelves in 2014.

Here's what goes (burns?) down in this novel: Partridge is the leader of the Dome, and the wretches are out for revenge — and when these two worlds collide, not even the Detonations can surpass the eruption of chaos that ensues. The mystery that is Ellery Willux is finally cracked; and we get to see how the people inside the Dome cope with the truth. (Badly.)

There are explosions, weddings, torture, betrayal, and even ghosts. We've been comparing the trilogy to The Hunger Games trilogy for quite some time now, but Burn is nothing like what we get in Mockingjay. In fact, a review on Library Journal even says:

The gorgeous writing surpasses that of The Hunger Games.

Ouch. Oooch. Burn.

Now this is just one reviewer's opinion—we're definitely die hard, Hunger Games-salute flashing Katniss fans—but it does answer the question "Is the Pure trilogy as good as the Hunger Games?" The answer is a resounding "Oh hecky yes." And Burn is the novel that really drives that point home.

Because the Pure trilogy has always been a study in nuanced, multifaceted character. We root for our heroes even as they screw up, big time. We understand both their strengths and their very serious failings. We watch them grow and evolve… and Burn lets us see the not-so-great aspects of that evolution.

If you're scared of the dark, you'd better run—not walk—away from Burn. Because, even with all the fires blazing in the Meltlands, this novel takes us to a pitch-black place. The Pure trilogy doesn't end with a musical number and a ride into the sunset. The world at the end of Burn is just as filled with violence and discord as it's ever been, and this novel gives us the satisfying-yet-open ended conclusion that we need. The Detonations brought chaos to the world, but for the wretches, this chaos isn't an ending—it's another beginning.

What is Burn About and Why Should I Care?

One word: reality.

Burn scorches us with a heaping dose of reality. This is not—we repeat, is not—a book with a happy ending. Beware: we're going to drop a lot of spoilers on you right about now.

Those adorable romances that blossomed during Fuse? Yeah: those go bye-bye. That faith we had in Partridge? That evaporates. That desire we had for the Pures and the wretches to learn to live in perfect harmony? Not happening… at least not immediately.

We'll admit it: we hate to be coddled by fiction. We get hot under the collar when a book decides to turn away from the reality of its characters and plot devices and hand us a sugar-glazed, pastel-colored happy ending. We start throwing popcorn at the screen when a bad guy suddenly becomes good in the last three minutes of a movie. We throw our iPad across the room when the conclusion of a TV show has a previously-wimpy character suddenly saving the dang day. It's not real; it doesn't make sense; it's sloppy writing.

Rant over.

But Burn doesn't treat us like delicate flowers that need to be protected from the world. You know how Partridge was always impulsive, and a bit spineless? Yeah: those character attributes stick around and spell his demise. You know how Bradwell always had a death wish and was a little fanatical? He ends up dying a martyr's death. You know how Lyda was always level-headed? She tells the love of her life to marry another woman for political reasons.

You know how Helmud was always awesome? Don't worry: Helmud stays awesome.

Reading Burn is like stepping out of the Dome of happily-ever-after and taking a deep breath of acrid Meltlands air. Sure, it stings. But it definitely beats being pampered and kept from the beautiful, sad, complicated realities of the world.

Burn Resources

Websites

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

The Official Website for the Pure Trilogy
Contains all of the latest and greatest news about the trilogy.

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

Blog
Baggott's blog is under one of her pen names: Bridget Asher.

Samples
Want an itty-bitty version of some of Baggott's work? Here are some samples.

Movie or TV Productions

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

Articles and Interviews

Learn More About Your Author
A general interview with Julianna Baggott

Video

Trailer for Pure (2012)
Check out the trailer for the first book in the series, Pure.

Images

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

Bradwell
Been wondering what Bradwell's all about?

El Capitan and Helmud
Want to see some fan art of El Capitan?

The Doll Hand
Let's take a look at another depiction of Pressia's doll hand.

Map of Outside the Dome
This can help you understand where you are.

Julianna Baggott
Our author: she looks like a Pure to us.