First things first. Before I say anything else I have to stress that this book should not be read unless you’re familiar with the story up to now, as told in “Pure” and “Fuse”.
This book seamlessly picks the story up where Fuse ended. Partridge has returned to the Dome and has inherited his father’s position as leader now that Willox is dead. But if Partridge thought that gaining power would bring him the opportunity to put an end to the inequality between the Pure people inside the dome and the Wretches outside, he is in for a shocking surprise. Established powers have no intention of allowing him to change the status-quo and have the means to keep him in check. As his feelings of powerlessness grow, so do Partridge’s doubts about himself, his motives and what he might be able to achieve. By the time he realises that his desire to avoid all bloodshed might lead to nothing except more violence it may well be too late.
Meanwhile Pressia, Bradwell, El Capitan and Helmut are in Ireland, in the care of a small group of detonation survivors fighting their own battle to stay alive. When they board their airship to travel back to America they’ll have acquired the means to bring down the Dome. While Bradwell is pushing for their oppressors’ destruction, Pressia still holds on to the dream of getting the serum that could form the basis for a cure for the Wretches to scientists inside the Dome.
As violence erupts from the Dome, doubts about Partridge’s loyalty are raised. By the time it becomes clear that the only way to bring down a world created through an unspeakable act of destruction is to destroy its core, it may be too late for all participants to survive or find the answers they were looking for.
Before I get to the specifics of Burn I have to state that the ‘Pure’ trilogy is an amazing piece of imagination and writing. It has to take its place among the darkest works of fiction I have ever read, but it also stands out as one of the most well written and thought-provoking trilogies I’ve come across.
Julianna Baggott doesn’t look for easy answers, cosy endings or happily ever afters in these books. This trilogy brings the reader to a post-apocalyptic world in all its horrifying glory. And the final instalment, ‘Burn’ is, if possible, even darker than its two prequels.
On the surface this seems to be a story without hope. If you were to dig a little bit deeper though you’d see that actually there is some light in this book. It may not take the form of the exact happy ending you were hoping for, but it does reaffirm your belief in values such as friendship, loyalty, family, love and forgiveness. And that is where the strength of this book – this trilogy – lies. Julianna Baggott has created a world where people do what they have to do in order to survive. For some – the Pures - surviving depends on keeping their privileged world well closed off from others at all costs. For those on the outside, living in what are almost unliveable circumstances, it means there is little or no room for compassion. And yet, neither environment has managed to turn everybody who lives there into monsters. The power of this book lies in the message that despite the circumstances they find themselves in, some people will always try to do the right thing for the right reasons.
This is not an easy book to read; in fact, I found it quite heartbreaking. It is however a powerful story; one with a premise worth thinking about. This is a book that will stay with the reader long after they finish reading.
Burn, like its prequels, is a beautifully written yet very dark story about hope, love and courage against the odds. I’m almost sorry I’ve reached the end of this tale. I would love to know what happens next to Pressia in this world. And, considering the way the story ends I guess it is not impossible that the author will revisit this world and these characters at some point in the future. If she does I will be among the first readers to revisit this dust-filled world that has become almost real in my mind.