Study Guide

Fuse Themes

  • Memory and the Past

    You thought Pure was full of memories? Ha. You ain't seen (or remembered that you saw) nothing yet.

    In Fuse, memories and the reliance in the past is a constant theme, especially for Pressia and Partridge. Pressia still can't live in the present, and Partridge actually has his dang memory erased. Memory holds so much weight in this trilogy, that people actually lose their sense of self without it. Partridge isn't Partridge when his memory is erased, and Pressia doesn't feel whole without any memories of her parents.

    Questions About Memory and the Past

    1. Do you think the memory of blood propels Partridge and Pressia forward, or hinders them?
    2. Who do you think has a better sense of the past: Pressia, or Bradwell?
    3. How is Partridge's memory jogged after his surgery?

    Chew on This

    The memory of their mother's death will help Partridge and Pressia take down the Dome.

    Even though Pressia wants to remember the past, she should spend her time looking toward the future.

  • Fear

    Fear of falling in love, fear of death, fear of each other — the whole world of Fuse is filled with fear.

    In fact, fear can actually be seen as a good thing in this book. Without it, characters wouldn't be pushed to achieve change, and they would simply give up. El Capitan, one of the bravest characters, is actually plagued by a constant state of fear. Sure, being afraid can be paralyzing, but these characters have endured so much suffering that fear becomes instilled in their minds. They can't choose not to be afraid, so hey, they might as well use it towards their advantage.

    Questions About Fear

    1. Who is the most fearless character in the book?
    2. Does El Capitan try to manipulate fear, or do you think he just naturally likes frightening people?
    3. Is fear helpful for characters in this book? Can it be seen as a strength?

    Chew on This

    El Capitan's whole life is based on fear: people fear him, he fears death, and he fears being alone. That's why he's constantly able to put his life on the line.

    Pressia's fear of falling in love his her tragic flaw.

  • Love

    There's a lot of love going on in Fuse: romantic love, familial love, and brotherly love. In some cases, the love is explicit, as is the case with Partridge and Lyda. These lovebirds make their romance pretty obvious… which actually helps keep them determined throughout their journey.

    But for people like Pressia and Bradwell who bottle up their love for each other, things can get a little messy. Now pay attention kids: if you think you love someone, you should at least tell them you're fond of them. Because if you don't, you might just miss your chance. Ask Bradwell — he wasn't too happy when El Capitan stole his thunder.

    Questions About Love

    1. Should Pressia and Bradwell confessed their love to each other earlier, or do you think that would have been stagnated their mission?
    2. Is love El Capitan's driving force?
    3. Is Pressia right about her mother? Did her mother's inclination to fall in love kill her?

    Chew on This

    By ignoring her love for Bradwell, Pressia actually weighs him and herself down.

    El Capitan's love for Helmud is actually stronger than his love for Pressia.

  • The Home


    It's not a coincidence that many of the characters in Fuse mutter the phrase, "home Sweet home" to themselves. Unfortunately, there really isn't any "home" in this novel. While the wretches certainly feel more comfortable outside of the Dome, they were stripped of their real homes and have been forced to either live nomadically, or in an impoverished state.

    On the other hand, the people inside the Dome live comfortably inside a bubble that they like to call home — but in reality, the inside of the Dome is synthetic and artificial.

    Questions About The Home

    1. Where is Pressia's home? Where is Partridge's home? What about Lyda's?
    2. Can the Dome ever really serve as a home?
    3. Even though Lyda feels at home outside the Dome, does she really belong there?

    Chew on This

    Despite their desire to live freely, Partridge and Lyda can't escape their feeling of comfort when inside the Dome.

    There are no homes in this book, just temporary dwellings.

  • Versions of Reality

    There are as many versions of truth in Fuse as there are characters. Bradwell seeks a complete, uncompromising truth. Pressia seeks a truth that will fit her purposes: she wants a solution to a problem, rather than the messiness that comes with complete truth.

    And Partridge? Well, Partridge wants a kind of idealized truth. He longs for a home, and for a fair world, and for a father that loves him. Unfortunately, the world in which Partridge lives ain't fair, his daddy hates him, and he can never go home again.

    Questions About Versions of Reality

    1. Does Pressia have a distorted sense of reality?
    2. Is Bradwell really searching for the truth, or something else?
    3. What do dreams tell us about certain characters? Partridge and Pressia in particular.

    Chew on This

    Bradwell's search for the truth isn't really a search for the truth. It's a quest for revenge.

    Iralene's whole life is a lie — so she'll never be able to reconcile with the truth.

  • Isolation

    Isolation is a painful thing: from time-outs as a child to Friday nights spent alone as adults, we're conditioned to be repulsed by isolation. But Lyda's isolation from the Dome allows her to become her own woman. In fact, Lyda feels more isolated in the Dome than she does outside the Dome.

    However, isolation from a community is different from being isolated from yourself. Partridge's pain comes from the fact that he has very little idea of who he's supposed to be—he's neither a Pure nor a wretch. That isolation haunts him.

    Questions About Isolation

    1. Are the characters stronger because they've felt alone in the past? Or does that leave a certain sense of emptiness inside of them?
    2. Is El Capitan ever alone?
    3. Which character do you think feels the most trapped?

    Chew on This

    Lyda would have been better off alone rather than living with the mothers.

    The Dome's isolation from the rest of the world doomed them from the start.

  • Mortality

    The world of Fuse is littered with death. The Detonations wiped out the majority of the earth's population—those that didn't die immediately were almost certainly doomed to die from their fusings. And inside the Dome? Well, the Pures are trapped in a world so artificial that they may as well be dead already.

    And this divide shapes the way that characters inside and outside of the Dome relate to life. Those outside the Dome have a better appreciation for the fullness of life, even if their own lives are riddled with hardship. Those inside the Dome are more fearful: because of the artificiality of their world, they're both removed from life and from death.

    Questions About Mortality

    1. Do Pures actually understand the concept of death?
    2. Is El Capitan suicidal?
    3. Is the true tragedy of the Detonations the death, or the fusings?

    Chew on This

    Because of their mother's death, Pressia and Partridge will always go out of their way to save others.

    The characters of Ellery Willux, Iralene Willux, and Mimi Willux serve as a reminder to the reader that no one should be allowed to live forever.

  • Time

    Being short on time is one of the worst things to happen in the real world… and one of the best things to happen in the fictional world. In Fuse, there's an evil dude who rules the earth, and he almost has the technology to live forever too. It's up for Our Heroes to stop him before it's too late.

    And thank goodness, right? Because of this tremendous time crunch, these characters don't stagnate. They need to keep moving. They're under the wire… and while it's stressful for them, it's exciting for us.

    Questions About Time

    1. Do the different time frames for the characters confuse you?
    2. Pressia and her friends are constantly racing against the clock — is this a blessing in disguise?
    3. Partridge often wants to freeze time when he's with Lyda. Does this wishful thinking create an obstacle for him?

    Chew on This

    Without the pressure of time, Pressia and the gang would still be kicking it at the OSR Headquarters.

    Mimi and Iralene's view of "suspended time" is parallels how the inside of the Dome operates.