Study Guide

Fuse Quotes

  • Isolation

    Chapter 1

    She can't stop from searching, no matter how irrational it is to believe she might one day find him. (1.4)

    Isolation can take on many forms; for Pressia, she feels mentally and physically isolated from her father. And because of this, she feels isolated from herself as well.

    Chapter 2

    But, by God, he feels trapped, and worse than the feelings of being trapped is boredom. (2.3)

    One of the worst parts about being isolated from everyone else is boredom. Isolation can lead to madness.

    Chapter 4

    "I grew up alone. I can strike up a conversation with anything." (4.33)

    Um, good for you, Bradwell. Good for you. You keep on talking to those inanimate objects.

    Chapter 5

    Her held breath starts to burn her lungs. Just another second of peace, she thinks. Just one more. (5.51)

    Sometimes isolation means peace and quiet. Lyda submerges herself underwater here, which is a literal isolation of her and the world.

    Chapter 9

    But there it is: Everyone is alone, for life, and maybe that's not a bad thing. (9.23)

    In the long run, we're all alone. We can be fused, or married, or connected, but we're still individuals who make our own decisions. And like Lyda says, that's not a bad thing.

    Chapter 14

    "I just knew in that moment that I was a girl in a dome shaking a dome with a girl in it."

    "That's the way I always felt at the zoo. A boy in a cage staring at animals in cages." (14.14)

    The Dome isolates its people from the rest of the world. They're all just animals in a zoo, or like figurines in a snow-globe.

    Chapter 42

    He finds a door, pushes it open, ready to breathe the cold air. And then he's outside. But that's just it. No one's every really outside here. (42.82)

    If you can never really go outside, then you never have the comfort of coming inside. You can never feel the coziness of being out of the elements. The Dome is a false representation of a community.

    Chapter 74

    […] she's trapped again, except there isn't even the watery swirl of fake, wet snow. (74.7)

    What makes things worse for Lyda when she goes back to the Dome is that she's not even in an artificial location. She's straight-up trapped in a room with no windows. Now that's the most literal definition of being isolated.

    Chapter 75

    She knows that he's giving her privacy. He's telling her that now is the time to say what she needs to say—including good-bye. (75.31)

    Another word for "isolation" can be "privacy," which is something we all need sometimes. El Capitan knows that Pressia needs privacy when Bradwell is dying.

    Chapter 78

    They aren't alone. And yet it feels like they are completely alone on this earth, cut off. (78.3)

    Isolation isn't just something that an individual can feel; it can spread to a whole group of people.

  • Fear

    Chapter 1

    Errant gunshots aren't unusual. But that doesn't stop her chest from tightening around her heart. (1.21)

    Even the most hardened people have fear; Pressia might be used to violence and gunshots, but that doesn't completely desensitize her from feeling any fear.

    She wouldn't admit to seeing bright red bursting before her eyes any more than to her fear of falling in love with him. (1.30)

    Love is terrifying business. Pressia thinks that falling for Bradwell is something that exposes her weakness.

    Chapter 3

    […] he locks eyes with El Capitan, who doesn't move but doesn't stiffen either. He doesn't want to seem fearful. (3.16)

    El Capitan is a canny guy. He knows that exposed fear is a weakness, but hidden fear can be a source of strength.

    Chapter 6

    But Dusts know the mothers. They fear them. (6.26)

    Yeah, even Dusts can feel fear. It's not just a human instinct—and even the most vicious creatures we encounter can be afraid. Plus, who wouldn't fear the mothers?

    Chapter 7

    The OSR uniform has been associated with fear for a long time, and there isn't much he can do about it, so he uses the fear. Fear can be an asset. (7.7)

    Using fear to your advantage isn't always a bad thing. If people are frightened by you, then you have the upper hand. Sure, to be feared doesn't always mean you're respected, but having fear as an asset beats brute strength any day of the week.

    Chapter 10

    Helmud leans forward, glancing at his brother's expression, maybe trying to gauge his fear. (10.63)

    We can gauge fear on each others' faces. Even when you try your hardest not to look terrified, it's not easy to hide it. You need an excellent poker face in times of fear.

    Chapter 29

    Pressia knows that it's fear that keeps her love in check. (29.14)

    If Pressia falls deeply in love with Bradwell, then he becomes her world: losing him would be utterly devastating. Love is pretty much the scariest thing in the world.

    Chapter 30

    She doesn't despise her old self as much as she fears her. (30.35)

    Lyda doesn't want to revert back to her old self. It's not that she doesn't like what she used to be, but she's terrified of becoming that brainwashed academy girl again. Because if she reverts back, she loses what she's gained from being outside of the Dome.

    Chapter 46

    El Capitan would love to be able to override his own instincts and emotions, mainly fear. Fear claws in his chest like a trapped animal. (46.4)

    Even the bravest, most hardened character in this book can be afraid. In fact, it seems like El Capitan is the most frightened person. But hey, he uses fear to his advantage; because of that clawing in his chest, he's able to maintain a fighting attitude.

    The power dynamic has shifted. Beckley's a little afraid of him now. (75.99)

    Oh how the tables have turned. The people who appear terrifying at first aren't always scary. In fact, Partridge turns his fear around on its head with his guard Beckley.

  • The Home

    Chapter 2


    He misses the academy with relentless longing. He shouldn't want to be back in his dorm room […] but he does. (2.13)

    This is one of those "never forget where you came from"moments. Though we have the urge to escape our past, it can be where we feel the most comfortable: it's familiar.

    Chapter 5

    Ironically, for the first time in her life, she feels protected in a way that she never did within the protective bubble of the Dome. (5.5)

    The Dome isn't a home for anyone, especially Lyda. It's an artificial protection —home for Lyda actually becomes living with the mothers.

    Chapter 6

    Partridge, it's over. You're one of us. Come home. There is no home. (6.43)

    For Partridge, there really isn't any home. He doesn't feel right outside of the Dome, but he doesn't feel at home inside the Dome. So really, Partridge feels as if he doesn't have a home.

    A home, the thing that was stolen. Perfect, as if perfect ever existed. (6.97)

    All Partridge wants is to feel at home, but he feels as if that luxury has been stolen from him because of his father. Here, he feels like the wretches — like his home has been taken, not just lost.

    Chapter 11

    It smells like home, something sharp and sulfuric in the back of Pressia's throat. It smells like childhood, and she's allowed to be nostalgic for it; even a poisoned, desolate childhood can be missed. (11.55)

    Sometimes a certain smell can seem like a time machine: it's a surefire way to elicit nostalgia.

    Chapter 12

    If you weren't always searching for a real home, if you lived in a safe and happy place, would still need to play house? (12.40)

    Good question, Pressia. Playing house and actually experiencing a sense of home are two entirely different things — here we get a sense of Pressia's alienation from what it means to feel at home.

    Chapter 37

    "Home sweet home," Partridge says to no one. (37.22)

    Like we saw earlier, Partridge doesn't actually feel at home in the Dome. This is sarcastic, because the house with Mimi and Iralene is the epitome of fake.

    Chapter 40

    Partridge can feel his old self transported back to him through the smell […] Does it feel like home? No, but it's part of him. (40.11)

    Just like Pressia, Partridge doesn't miss his past, but it still brings back feelings of nostalgia. The thing is, even if we don't want to go back, we can't ignore that the past shaped who we are today.

    Chapter 68

    "We've got to find a way to get this ship home."

    "Home," Helmud says.

    "Home," El Capitan says, as if he's now the one who echoes his brother. (68.58)

    Above almost everything else — love, fear, desire — the home is the most sought out entity in Fuse.

    Chapter 69

    They're taking her back… home. (69.45)

    No matter how much she wants to be a wretch, Lyda still can't fight her past. The Dome is her home, even though she hates it.

  • Time

    Chapter 2

    But hour after hour, minute after minute, footstep overhead after footstep […] the boredom becomes blinding. (2.3)

    Ever felt like time is just dragging along? That's how Partridge feels when he's staying with the mothers. Each day feels like an eternity; that's torture in itself.

    Chapter 11

    The rest of his life and Helmud's too, meted out in hours, minutes, seconds. (11.46)

    At this point, El Capitan is given only a few hours to live. But he never tells anyone that he's about to die… which pretty much sets him up as a hero.

    Chapter 14

    He wants to hold this moment—the Christmas lights blinking overhead, Mother Hestra telling Syden a story about a fox, and Lyda bent over her work. (14.2)

    In contrast to the days dragging on with the mothers, Partridge wishes he could freeze time when he's making maps with Lyda.

    Chapter 20

    Time was only of the essence during the Before, when they could still hope to stop Willux. (20.50)

    Time is always of the essence when you're trying to stop an evil mastermind. If you lose your sense of urgency, you falter and become weak.

    Chapter 32

    "Suspended time is, by definition, time not spent. It exists alongside time as we know it. So it can't be wasted, can it?" (32.50)

    Is the time spent in a cryogenic chamber lost? Or is it suspended?

    Chapter 53

    "Preservation," Iralene says. "There's nothing better for your longevity." (53.12)

    Iralene and Mimi are such unfortunate characters because of what Ellery has them do. Preservation, though good for longevity, has become their sole goal in life. But what's the point of living for a long time if you're not actually living?

    Chapter 56

    Is Weed telling him he'll have one week to dredge up the memories? Just a week or so? (56.46)

    Being crunched for time can be a good thing sometimes, but here it's not so great. Partridge is faced with the task of regaining his memory in only one week.

    Chapter 70

    "I've been your age longer than you, that's all. And I'll be your age for as long as I can." (70.57)

    Being young is great and all, but staying young forever has its consequences. Just look at Iralene.

    Chapter 76

    "He wants to live forever. He wants his brain to continue on. His body won't let this happen. But yours…" (76.20)

    Woah, this makes time suspension even more problematic. Imagine if people tried to defy time by taking other peoples' bodies. Now that's messed up.

  • Love

    Chapter 4

    If he were in love, wouldn't his vision erase her flaws? Wouldn't he see only the best version of her? (4.84)

    Loving someone doesn't always mean that you put them on a pedestal. It just means that you see someone's flaws as beautiful.

    Chapter 5

    "Don't talk about dying? You want me to talk about love. They're one and the same, child. One and the same." (5.48)

    Uh, that's pretty depressing. Is love really the same thing as dying? They're both scary, sure… but this seems like an incredibly jaded comment.

    Chapter 29

    Pressia can't imagine how someone could give and take love so easily. (29.12)

    Pressia's mother supposedly loved many people, and that's not always a bad thing, but it got her into some major trouble. Because of her tendency to let love have authority, Pressia's mother sets herself up to be heartbroken.

    Love is a luxury. It's something that people are allowed to indulge in when they're not simply trying to survive and keep other people alive. (29.12)

    Well, that's not always the case. Love can actually be a driving force when it comes to survival. Pressia puts survival in one corner and love in the other corner here. But what she should actually do is put them both together.

    Chapter 41

    Her mother didn't always do what was rational and logical. She was driven to make choices because she listened to her heart, not her head. Eventually, those choices killed her. (41.18)

    The problem with listening to your heart can be that your heart tricks you. But so does your head, so really, Pressia's statement traps us in between a rock and a hard place.

    Chapter 52

    She also doesn't want Partridge to know she's pregnant because she wants him to come back for her out of love, not obligation. (52.8)

    Obligation is the word that can sometimes spoil love—luckily, we know that Partridge thinks about Lyda constantly… and not because he has to.

    Chapter 54

    It's hard to imagine El Capitan in love, but of course he's capable of love. He's human, no matter how tough he pretends to be. (54.123)

    Everyone can love, even the least sentimental people out there. In fact, without love, the world would be a pretty dreary place. So next time you see someone who seems incapable of love, think again. It's in there somewhere.

    Chapter 62

    "We fell in love this way. I can't sacrifice all our past. It would break my heart if we couldn't remake the memories." (62.94)

    Yeah this is a boldfaced lie that Iralene tells Partridge. But in this case, lying about falling in love is what Iralene has to do. After all, she loves Partridge with all of her heart, and she thinks she needs to lie to save him.

    Chapter 70

    Partridge's father doesn't love him. That's the honest truth. He's known it all along. (70.1)

    What a downer.

    Your father can be the person you most hate and most fear, yes, but deep down you expect that he'll be the one to save you. (48.86)

    So his father is a murderer, and he wants to kill his own son. Yet, Partridge still desperately expects Ellery to love him. Oh, dear. Sometimes, it's just not meant to be.

  • Memory and the Past

    Chapter 4

    He looks wistful for a second. Pressia's jealous of the memory. (4.41)

    Memories are like currency for people outside the Dome. So though it might look odd to see Pressia feel jealous here, it's similar to how people are jealous of other people's wealth. Pressia is poor when it comes to memories—all she wants is to have a past.

    "The past isn't just the past. It's the truth!" (4.108)

    For all you antiquarians out there, Bradwell is your man. The past tells us how we can mend our future, and what we need to continue to do. The past happened and the future hasn't yet — so why dwell in something that isn't yet true?

    Her mind is blank except for the image of her mother's death—her skull, the mist of blood. (4.105)

    Some memories just keep popping up in your head; this one is Pressia's. Unfortunately, traumatic experiences are placed right in the front of your mind, and it's extremely hard to move them back.

    Chapter 8

    "I want to remember them on my own, but I don't think I can." (8.16)

    For people like Pressia who were very young during the Detonations, memories are scarce, no matter how hard they try. But sometimes when she tries to remember, she ends up making up memories. Memory is malleable, folks.

    "I have to tunnel back through that part if I want to get to the Before. I feel like it's a locked door to an attic. If I open it, I'll find the thins my mind has blanked out from the detonations, and, deeper in the attic, maybe memories of my mother and father." (8.18)

    Pressia feels like there's just a metaphorical door somewhere in her mind that she needs to unlock. What she needs to realize, though, is that there might not be anything behind that door.

    Chapter 15

    "Maybe some of the past should just stay in the past." (15.44)

    When it comes to memories, Pressia is usually the person to turn to. Again, her extreme desire to unravel the past isn't always a great idea—it keeps her from thinking about her future.

    Chapter 50

    "You wanna know what I'm sentimental about? Pressia says.

    "What?"

    "The things I don't remember—stuff I've only heard about" (50.6)

    Oh, Pressia. Nostalgic even for the things she can't remember.

    Chapter 51

    "Memory's a tricky thing. It isn't infinite. It's a net. Your mind is an ocean. We can only dredge so far." (51.91)

    Good old Arvin Weed gives us a nice metaphor for our minds. Just like an ocean, our memories are so vast that we can't possibly explore their entirety.

    Chapter 66

    He rubs the back of his neck and imagines the taste of dirt, ash. And the imagining is so real it almost feels like a memory. (66.24)

    The idea of memory being malleable is complicated here: Partridge isn't imagining, he's remembering. But sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.

    Chapter 72

    It's like being in a dark room in a thunderstorm, and there's that first bolt that illuminates what your eyes are focused on before the light is gone. (72.6)

    Another perfect simile from Baggott: memories can be brilliant, but their can also be frustratingly brief or incomplete.

  • Versions of Reality

    Chapter 4

    If the Detonations hadn't ever happened, she'd have liked to have met Bradwell—a reality in which there are no doll-head fists or scars or embedded birds, before all the losses. (4.19)

    Once again, Pressia can't alter the past, no matter how hard she tries. The Detonations are a part of her world, and she needs to come to terms with the losses inflicted upon the world.

    "They contain a version of the Before. A digitized, cleaned-up version. Information isn't necessarily the truth." (4.52)

    Are facts always facts? Bradwell makes a cynical but astute point here; we can't always rely on mere information. Sometimes we just need to see with our own eyes.

    She spent most of her childhood trying to remember things that never happened, the life her grandfather invented for her. (4.18)

    Pressia might not have had the childhood she should have had, but that doesn't mean she didn't have a childhood. Sure, her grandfather may have lied to her, but that was her reality. Pressia wants to alter the past — but she can't.

    Chapter 8

    Emi Brigid Imanaka. They're just three words. And Pressia Belze is an invention. (8.13)

    Just because her name isn't technically Pressia Belze, that doesn't mean she isn't Pressia Belze. Pressia is who she has become… even if she's not willing to accept that.

    Chapter 10

    In her dream, there was a body without a head. There was a dog without feet. There was a sheep—pale and hairless, scalded a deep scarlet. (10.28)

    Dreams are weird.

    Chapter 14

    He wonders if she dreams about their mom the way he does, doomed to find her dead body everywhere he goes. (14.42)

    But dreams are also pretty telling. Our dreams are simply our subconscious bringing memories and ideas to the surface. Because of their shared trauma, Partridge and Pressia are haunted by their dreams.

    Chapter 22

    These weren't in a dream. The bodies in the water weren't a dream. This is a memory. Her own. (22.60)

    In some cases, we actually think we're dreaming, but we're not. Dreaming can distort what we think is the truth sometimes; it's like dreams and memory are in a constant battle.

    Chapter 34

    "The truth can be manipulated. But we live within a secret within a secret within a secret. That's why we can make anything happen, Partridge. Anything at all." (34.58)

    Yikes. This is both the most inspiring and the most terrifying thing we've ever heard: delusion is a powerful, powerful force.

    Chapter 52

    She's had dreams where she gives birth to something furred, mangled, fanged, its ribs glittering with glass. (52.3)

    This is called a nightmare, folks. They aren't pretty, but they can tell us a lot about our true fears and anxieties.

    Chapter 53

    "Just a dream. Everything's fine. It's going to be all right." He tries to believe what he's saying. "I promise." (53.84)

    Sometimes dreams can be the closest thing to the truth we have, so we can't ignore them. Partridge is trying to console Iralene, telling her she was just dreaming. But she wasn't just dreaming — her subconscious was imagining what the future might become.

  • Mortality

    Chapter 5

    She looks at Lyda as if maybe he'd like to die. Lyda can't understand it. (5.46)

    Lyda doesn't understand why Illia would want to die, but let's put ourselves in Illia's shoes. She's in immense pain, and her whole life has been filled with suffering. We fear death, but it can also be seen as eternal peace.

    Chapter 17

    He's always accepted the truth of his life—now his death. (17.56)

    The truth of El Capitan's life is that he's forever conjoined to his brother. The truth of his death (at that moment) would be to blow up from a robotic spider. El Capitan has simply come to terms here.

    Chapter 48

    "It's the scent of humanity, Partridge. It smells like mortality. Death." (48.57)

    But what does death smell like? We're hoping it's like freshly-baked pumpkin bread. (Probably not.)

    Partridge remembers the stench of ash and death shuttled around on the wind. Blood. The iron-scented air after his brother and mother were killed. That's death. (48.58)

    Death isn't fully realized until it's observed: for Partridge, seeing his mother die is what allows him to understand death.

    Chapter 73

    The thought appears in his mind: he killed Bradwell. He imagined him dead and now he's dead. (73.19)

    Not quite how it works, El Capitan. But this quote shows that Cap is a character with a conscience: he's worried that his death-wish for Bradwell turned into death-reality.

    He thinks for a moment that it's Death […] "Death is coming," El Capitan says, "to steal our souls." (73.44)

    El Capitan personifies death (notice how he uses a capital "D"), and suggests that death is there to "steal."

    It's like his body has already started to wish Bradwell dead and gone, and there's nothing his conscience can do about it. (73.12)

    Sometimes we wish that other people would just go away. It's horrible, but it happens—El Capitan is just pointing out a simple truth.

    Chapter 75

    His mother dead.

    His brother dead.

    The entire world dead, dead, dying, and dead. (75.120)

    Yikes. So much death. No wonder Partridge is such a Gloomy Gus.

    "I'm Pure already. You are too. Let me die that way." (75.37)

    Bradwell's come to terms with his death, but Pressia denies him the peace of death. This brings up the question of whether or not we should have the choice in preserving or ending the lives of others.

    Chapter 76

    This is his father. This is his body. This is death. (76.109)

    Ellery Willux is dying, but Partridge can't comprehend that until he actually sees his father. No matter how much death we observe, it's always horrible to behold.