It's all relative in Fuse. Or should we say it's all relatives? In this novel—the second in Julianna Baggott's Pure trilogy—the characters are all in a family way.
We're not just talking about Lyda, who's preggo with Partridge's baby. We're talking about Partridge's mission to go murder his daddy… and marry his stepsister. We're talking about Pressia's desire to avenge her mother's death and unlock the mystery of her birth father. We're talking about El Capitan's deteriorating relationship with his conjoined brother Helmud. And naturally we're talking about Bradwell's schemes to seek revenge on the people that killed his entire family.
And you know that when the subject of family rears its head, things are about to get messier than an overcrowded Thanksgiving table.
Things get personal in Fuse to the point where even the "good" characters let selfish, erratic feelings get the best of them. Pressia isn't the butterfly-loving, naive girl we knew in Pure. Partridge doesn't let people walk all over him anymore. Lyda's now a warrior. El Capitan sheds his rigid exterior… along with a few robotic spiders. While the characters may have the same names as they did in Pure, the cast of 2013's Fuse are totally different individuals.
But that's what happens when family gets involved. To paraphrase Tolstoy: happy families are all alike, but the haunted, revenge-bent children of murdered parents are all different… and constantly evolving.
We don't want you to think that the dystopian bleaktitude of Pure has given way to a saga that's straight family drama, though. Far from it. Fuse has an a plague of robot spiders, a sentient black box, an airship in the Capitol Building, and a hidden formula for the reversal of Rapid Cell Degeneration. This isn't just a dystopian novel, it's also a mystery.
Following the extreme success of Pure, which won the New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 2012, Fuse is nothing short of satisfying… and by "satisfying" we mean "haunting, violent, deeply disturbing, and a source of highly nutritional nightmare food."
In the real world, it's all fun and games until somebody catches feelings. In the world of Fuse, it's all captivating dystopian fiction at its best until everybody catches feelings… and then it's captivating dystopian fiction at better than best.
No, the characters in Fuse don't get all moony-eyed and stop fighting the good fight. They get all moony-eyed and make terrible, gut-wrenching, and totally human mistakes. El Capitan almost loses the trust of Bradwell. Pressia turns Bradwell into a monster. Pregnant Lyda returns to the Dome. Partridge becomes single-minded about living happily ever after with Lyda… to the point that he's forced to undergo memory-erasing surgery.
In fact, Fuse is a testament to how human relationships can up the intensity factor of even the most action-filled revenge saga. Straight political drama is all very well and good, but political drama that's deeply complicated by a web of ugly, messy, and volatile emotions is amazing.
The second book of a trilogy sometimes suffers from middle-child syndrome. It can feel neglected, or overlooked. It can seem like a bridge between Point A and Point B. But Fuse doesn't suffer from insecurity. It takes up the already-gnarled plot of Pure and throws more twists into it than you thought possible.
And these twists aren't erratic or contrived. There is no shark-jumping present in this novel. Instead, the complications arise out of the emotional state of the characters. In fact, you could read this book as a blueprint for how to create emotional tension, narrative arcs, and rising action in your own writing.
Or you could just read Fuse because it's a rollercoaster of both violent emotions and emotional violence, and it's practically un-put-down-able.
Julianna Baggott's Website
She has other books and poetry, too—like twenty of 'em.
The Official Website for the Pure Trilogy
Contains all of the latest and greatest news for the trilogy.
Baggott's fan page on Facebook. News, news, self-promotion, and more news.
Pure: Coming to a Theater Near You.
A description of the film adaptation of Pure.
Learn More About Your Author
A general interview with Julianna Baggott
Trailer for Pure (2012)
Check out the trailer for the first book in the series, Pure.
Original Book Cover
Don't have the book? Check out what it looks like.
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.
Want to know what the author looks like? (There are no birds in her back.)