Fuse: The Pure Trilogy, Book 2

Book review by
Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media
Fuse: The Pure Trilogy, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Post-apocalyptic story has great characters; still gruesome.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

One reference to Hiroshima and the lasting effects of radiation.

Positive Messages

The story is set in a dark, dangerous place, but there's a sense of hope, however distant. Rebellion against corruption and dictatorship is good and can be achieved by working together, being smart, and staying true to your values. Fears can be powerful forces in preventing connections and love, but it's worth it to overcome them. Being true to yourself is more important than pleasing others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The teen characters persevere through difficult and dangerous circumstances, committed to fighting for good even while risking their own safety. They slowly develop their own values and come more fully into their own. Female characters, in particular, are strong and guided by their internal compass. The community of "mothers" are especially harsh in their judgments against men, assuming the worst and taking a hostile stance against men in general, but more specifically against the corrupt and powerful.


Violence, blood, and graphic imagery throughout. Several gunfights leading to death or major injury. Several tense scenes where it seems like main characters will die in terrible ways -- drowning, explosion, or asphyxiation. Young kids are sometimes in danger, and one scene details the corpse of a teen whose leg has been blasted off. One character gets an insect bomb embedded in his leg and another character carves it out of his leg with a knife. A teen boy is asked to kill his father and wrestles with the decision. Gruesome images of mutated humans and animals.


One brief but important scene where a teen couple has intercourse. The female character doesn't fully consent, but only because she doesn't understand the mechanics of sex. She gets pregnant and other characters accuse the male of rape. Another couple kisses, embraces, and sleeps entangled with one another. Lots of discussion of love. Some mention of marriage, discussions that hint at sex.


Strong language sprinkled throughout includes "hell," "goddamn," "ass," the insult "moron," "Jesus" as an exclamation, and one or two uses of "s--t."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

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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?

Book details

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For kids who love fantasy and sci-fi

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