Book: Burn (Pure Trilogy)
Author: Julianna Baggott
So this book is the final book in the Pure Trilogy. I started reading these books the year that the first Pure book came out, because as many other books in the past few years have been, it was billed as like the Hunger Games and whilst there are some similarities between the books, I think these books can stand on their own merit. The basic premise behind the book is another post apocalyptic american world where it has been turned to dust by this disaster known as the detonations. The story is set about a decade after the detonations and follows the protagonists-Partridge Willux, a Pure (one of those who were left unscarred from the detonations by escaping to a safe haven, The Dome) and Pressia Belze, a wretch, whose wrist has been fused to a dolls head (the detonations, which we can assume were some kind of chemical or nuclear bomb, fused people to things they were touching when the detonations go off). Partridge is the son of the designer of the Dome, Ellery Willux (who is basically the most evil man ever!) whilst Pressia lives in relative poverty, in an ashen barber shop with her grandfather (who has a fan fused to his throat). There’s a lot of stuff that happens in the first two books which I don’t want to ruin, but essentially by the end of the second book Partridge is in control of the Dome (the safe haven for these Pures-unscarred, unblemished survivors). Here’s a synopsis of the book:
Inside the Dome, Patridge has taken his father’s place as leader of the Pures. His struggle has led him here, intent upon bringing down the Dome from the inside, with the help of a secret resistance force. But things are not as simple from his new position of power and he finds himself tempted by his father’s words: perhaps if the world is to survive it needs the Dome – and Partridge – to rule it…
As Partridge’s resolve weakens, Pressia and Bradwell continue piecing together the clues left to them from the time before the Detonations. It is their hope that they will be able to heal the Wretches, and free them from their monstrous fusings and the Dome’s oppression once and for all. But everything depends, too, on Partridge. Separated by distance and history, can they still trust their friend and ally? Or is the world doomed to an eternity of war and hardship?
(There will inevitably be some spoilers here because I’m reviewing the last book in the series, not the first but I will try to keep them to a minimum)
Those expecting a romance between Pressia and Partridge would be slightly disappointed as Pressia it turns out is Partridge’s half sister (I feel I can say this without ruining the entire series as a lot more happens than just that). The two big romances of the series are between Pressia and Bradwell (a wretch who has birds fused to his back) and Partridge and Lyda (Lyda is a girl from the Dome, who escapes to the outside as does Partridge) but I found that neither of these were resolved in the way I would have liked them to be in this book. Whilst Pure and Fuse takes place mainly on the outside, Burn is primarily set in the Dome and there’s a sense of inevitability right from the start (I suppose really right from the very beginning of Pure), that the Dome is going to fall, and Burn is paced incredibly rapidly in places, but it leaves you hooked and wanting more. Whilst the first two books are more like quests for the characters, Pure searching for Partridge and Pressia’s mother and Fuse searching for the formula, Burn really isn’t like that at all, it’s more like a countdown to the inevitable.
Burn begins where Fuse left off-I have to say this for the review to make sense so spoiler alert, after Partridge has murdered his father Ellery Willux and inherited his position as leader. Partridge wants to change the status quo and ingratiate his friends, El Capitan and Helmud (they are technically two people, although Helmud is fused to El Capitan-they’re brothers who were fused in the Detonations), Bradwell & Pressia into a council made up of Pures and Wretches to help the outside world. But the people in the Dome like the status quo and the powers that be aren’t going to let him change it that easily-especially since Pures despise Wretches. As Partridge starts to feel less powerful, his doubts about himself and his motives grow and there are definite parallels that Baggott creates between Partridge and his father.
Pressia, Bradwell and El Capitan (and Helmud) are still in Ireland, where they flew in Fuse to find the formula and serum that Pressia’s mother created to free the wretches of their fusings, in the care of fellow survivors of the Detonations. There they acquire the means to take down the Dome but this causes a larger rift between Pressia and Bradwell (Bradwell is angry because Pressia gave him her mother’s serum so he wouldn’t be choked to death by carnivorous vine at the end of Fuse and this caused the birds on his back to grow giant wings) as Bradwell is pushing to take the Dome down, whilst Pressia is understandingly more hesitant and still holds on to the dream of getting the serum to the Dome’s scientists, so that the cure can be completed and the wretches can be freed from their fusings.
Pressia believes Partridge can be trusted but when violence from the Dome starts erupting in the outside world, doubts about Partridge’s loyalty are raised. I have to say Baggott creates wonderfully complex characters, Partridge who doesn’t want to turn into his father and yet wants to keep the Dome safe at all costs is a great example of this. I’m not sure if I particularly liked the way the story ended for Partridge but I can understand why she did it like that. Lyda who was essentially a meek and mild girl in Pure, turns into a strong warrior by Burn and the two are being pulled apart by Foresteed-disgruntled that he’s been passed over for Partridge as he was Willux’s number two man and desperate to be the one pulling the strings-and he is-everything Partridge does in this novel is manipulated by Foresteed and I have to admit sometimes I wanted to scream at Partridge.
Burn is an incredibly written book (as are the other two) and while the ending definitely leaves something to be desired, it’s a great book and along with the other two books in the trilogy, deserves to be read. It’s not an easy book to read-there’s no happily ever afters or easy answers and her post apocalyptic world is described in all of it’s “grotesque beauty” but they are amazing books. The characters are complexes, the stories are exciting and even in a world shaken by tragedy, the friendships between Partridge, Pressia, Bradwell, Lyda, El Capitan and Helmud are key to the story as well as themes of love, family and forgiveness and in this world people do what they must to survive but that doesn’t make them monsters, it makes them human and shows that even in the worst circumstances, some people always try to do the right thing for the right reasons. I’m very sad that these books have finished but the ending does leave plenty of threads open for Baggott to one day come back to this story and I’ll be very pleased if she does. The main question facing Pressia in this book is if she could change parts of her past would she? I think the fusings of the wretches are a symbol of their courage and all the pain and suffering they have been through yet they’re also a symbol of survival and I’m glad she chooses the option she does.
I know that review probably leaves you with more questions than answers, and in a way that’s what the trilogy does also but trust me when I say that these are amazing books and you won’t regret choosing to pick up Pure and reading all the way through to Burn.
My rating: 4/5 (only because there are some minor things I would have liked to be different)
The next book I will be writing a review for is Throne of Glass-the first book in a new series by Sarah J. Maas.