Book recommendation: Burn by Julianna Baggot

I finally got around to reading Burn, by Julianna Baggot. Remember, I mentioned it way back in January?

Burn is the third and final installment of Baggot’s Pure trilogy. I absolutely loved the first two books, but I waited a little while to buy the third. I had a pile of other books to get through, and I wanted to try to read at least some of them before buying anything new.

But, eventually, I had to give in. I bought Burn not long ago, and it didn’t take much time for me to start reading it.

Oh, I should warn you… there might be some slight spoilers in the rest of this post. The summary (both mine and Goodreads’) touches on what happened near the end of the second book, and I can’t really hold in my reaction to the ending of this one. But I promise to avoid any major spoilers.

Anyway, Burn picks up a few weeks after the ending of Fuse. Partridge and Lyda are in the Dome. They’re both safe, though mostly separated from each other. Partridge has taken over leadership of the Dome, while Lyda spends her time in the apartment Partridge has set up for her. They’re both waiting anxiously for when they can be together, but other forces in the Dome are working to stop that from happening — and to stop Partridge from saving the Wretches on the outside.

Pressia, Bradwell, El Capitan, and Helmund, meanwhile, are still in Ireland. They’ve mostly been kept inside, where they’re told they’ll be safe. But after an attack on the base they’ve been living in, the four are hastily sent home, along with a weapon that is guaranteed to get them into the Dome and the formula that can save the Wretches. Which they’ll use, however, is something the group can’t agree on.

All in all, Burn is just as full of tension as the two novels that came before it. I had a hard time putting the book down, especially as I came close to the end. There was even one day at work, when I only had about 20 pages left, that I very nearly continued reading after my lunch break.

I think part of the reason why there’s so much tension in this book is because there’s so much happening. We’re following four different points of view throughout the novel, while also wondering what’s going on in the minds of the people whose points of view we don’t follow. We’re thrown back and forth between the Dome and the outside, and between different areas of both the Dome and the outside.

Admittedly, all of those different points of view and areas could make a story difficult to read, but Baggott kept everything straight and easy to follow without outright explaining what happened. And, better yet, most of the point of view switches left off with at least a small cliffhanger, which was part of what kept me so engrossed in the novel — I needed to keep going so I could find out what would happen.

But my biggest reason for this recommendation? The ending. Because wow. Have you ever read a book that leaves you thinking, “Wait–what? No, that can’t be it… there has to be more… they didn’t–and they were… What!” but at the same time it was absolutely perfect because it fit the novel so well and it was so real?

That’s what I went through when I got to the end of this novel.

The ending was completely bittersweet, and I loved that. The more I think about it, the more strongly I believe that Baggott couldn’t have ended it any other way. Not every loose thread was tied up, and not every character got the ending they wanted — or maybe even deserved. But nothing else would have rung true to the story. The world in the novel wasn’t one that would allow everything to work out — it would have been impossible. Characters needed to get hurt, which means the reader needed to get hurt.

If you’re looking for a happy, fairy-tale ending, then this series may not be for you. But it is an engrossing read, and it’s one that I’m sure to pick up again.

Goodreads summary

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?

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