A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Fuse is the second book in the Pure trilogy, a post-apocalyptic YA series full of gruesome images and bloody violence. Teen characters are continually being chased or threatened and must defend themselves against explosive bugs, weaponized soldiers, poisoned darts, and mutated animals and humans. The central characters have strong morals and risk their own safety for others. In one key scene a teen boy and girl have sex, though the female character doesn't fully understand what the act entails; she gets pregnant. Characters swear throughout ("hell," "goddamn," "ass," one or two uses of "s--t"), although it never feels excessive.
What's the story?
As the Pure trilogy continues, Partridge's father is determined to lure him back to the Dome to install him as the new leader. He begins to kidnap orphans, turn them \"pure\" through operations, and then release them with programmed messages encouraging Partridge to return. He also deploys explosive arachnids he threatens to detonate if Partridge does not turn himself in. Before Partridge turns himself in with the intention of garnering support from rebels within the Dome, he and Lyda get more intimately involved. Meanwhile, Bradwell and Pressia -- who are also getting closer -- are determined to unlock the secrets of the black box and uncover the origins of the Dome and the Detonations.
Is it any good?
While still incredibly compelling and packed with brutal but fascinating images and concepts, Fuse suffers slightly from being the middle book.
The title of the second book in the Pure trilogy -- FUSE -- refers both to the objects embedded in the characters' bodies (birds, a doll, a pearl necklace, a child, etc.), as well as the developing physical and emotional relationships between Pressia and Bradwell and Partridge and Lyra. Being a dystopian story, these relationships are fraught with doubt, distance, misunderstandings, and mistakes, but they are at the emotional core of this story, overshadowing the characters' various quests to some degree.
The goal of Pressia and Bradwell's quest isn't always clear, though this also makes Fuse less predictable than cookie-cutter dystopian novels. The world these characters inhabit is so strange and yet subtly familiar that readers will be eager to move on to the finale and see the various loose ends tied up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the central conflict in the story. Who are the specific people battling one another and what do they represent? Can you see any real- world ties to the conflict in the story?
Does Pressia remind you of any other literary characters? What makes her different, and what traits are similar to others?
What commentary is the author making about modern culture? Think about the "mothers" and the "Basement Boys" -- who are they today? Is there an environmental critique, too?
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