Less than 10 years ago, a murderous genius named Ellery Willux unleashed a series of devastating detonations on the world. People became fused with the other people and the objects around them, if they survived at all. All of nature became contaminated and much of humanity physically altered. Except, that is, those who survived inside the Dome, a sterile paradise constructed by Willux. But within the Dome, things are just as dangerous as and even more sinister than life is on the outside. Partridge Willux, recently escaped from the Dome and the control of his father, now must return to it to take his place as leader. But will he lead by his father’s example or risk everything to start fixing the world?
This second book in Julianna Baggott’s Pure trilogy rejoins Partridge, as well as his half-sister Pressia and all their comrades who are trying not only to survive in the post-apocalyptic world, but to radically change it for the better and perhaps even save millions of lives.
"FUSE is a genre-bending page-turner: part apocalyptic, part coming-of-age story with plenty of adventure and romance thrown in for good measure. Baggott successfully pulls off multiple points of view and a bizarre and far-fetched premise, and never makes this middle book feel like merely a bridge in the trilogy."
While Pressia Belze was the central character in PURE, she shares the spotlight with a handful of others in FUSE: her half-brother Partridge, her compatriots Bradwell and El Capitan, and an ex-Dome dweller named Lyda. When the story begins, they are all working together to face the new challenges set in motion by the Dome. Now the Wretches, those scarred and damaged survivors outside the Dome, must contend not only with the brutal Special Forces, soldiers who have been “enhanced” and altered into fighting machines, but also with children who are programmed to deliver threatening messages from Willux. One such child is Wilda, and Pressia, Lyda and the others know her message is directed at Partridge. His father wants him in the Dome and is willing to kill to get him back (his weapon of choice is terrifying exploding robotic spiders).
Partridge and Lyda find themselves with the Mothers, a powerful underground network of women dedicated to fighting male oppression and the tyranny of the Dome. But one night, they are left alone, and the consequences of that night threaten Lyda’s standing with the Mothers after Partridge returns to the Dome. Back inside the Dome, Partridge is trying to hold on to his memories of Lyda, but it is exactly his memory that his father wants destroyed. Partridge confronts anew the terror and destruction his father has let loose in the world and, with the help of an enigmatic young woman named Iralene, begins to unravel his latest dastardly plans and seek out those who are working to destroy those plans.
Meanwhile, Pressia, Bradwell, El Capitan and his brother Helmud are on a mission to first unlock the secrets of the Cygnus and then find the airship they think may take them where they need to go in order to halt Willux’s plans. Aided by a rogue Dome soldier, a specially programmed information box named Fignan, and some anti-Dome freedom fighters, they seem to be nearing success when Pressia makes a rash decision that will either save Bradwell’s life or destroy it.
In FUSE, Baggott hits her stride with a pace and cohesiveness that was lacking a bit in PURE. With much of the backstory firmly in place but still a few mysteries unsolved, the characters’ personalities come through and their actions begin to come to fruition. They are more nuanced and compelling here than they were in the first book, and their relationships to each other and to the past, as well as their possible roles in conclusion of the story, have come into focus. The world, both inside the Dome and out, is frighteningly imagined and clearly described; outside the landscape is bleak but crawling with fascinating figures who respond to the crisis in a variety of ways, and inside the Dome, no one is quite what they seem.
FUSE is a genre-bending page-turner: part apocalyptic, part coming-of-age story with plenty of adventure and romance thrown in for good measure. Baggott successfully pulls off multiple points of view and a bizarre and far-fetched premise, and never makes this middle book feel like merely a bridge in the trilogy. A few aspects are a bit too incredulous (Fignan, the computer–esque box, is too convenient of a tool, for example), but overall this is a fun, scary and pretty extraordinary book.
Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on February 22, 2013