A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
One reference to Hiroshima and the lasting effects of radiation.
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
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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Strong language sprinkled throughout includes "hell," "goddamn," "ass," the insult "moron," "Jesus" as an exclamation, and one or two uses of "s--t."
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.