Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Burn -- Book 3 in the Pure Trilogy

Burn, Julianna Baggott
I thoroughly enjoyed Book 1 in this trilogy.  There were a lot of things it did exceptionally well.  I found it very memorable.  I re-read it before I read Book 2, and found it good all over again.  When Book 3 arrived, I remembered Book1 well, but had forgotten much of Book 2 -- except its ending.  I don't think this is only because I had read the first book twice and the second only once, I think it is because the first book is the strongest.  I re-read them both before reading Book 3.  Even though I still think Book 1 is the strongest, I enjoyed spending more time in this world and with these characters -- I just think the subsequent installments lack the power-punch of the first book (now read thrice).

I wouldn't read on from here if you haven't read Books 1 and 2.  No all-out spoilers for Book 3, but mention of things in previous books are included.
  • Like the first two books, Baggott does not shy away from dark things.  She loves dark things.  As a result, when Esky asked me, "How old should I be before I read that series?" I thought for about two seconds and then said, "18!"  Now, I'm not sure these books are R18.  But I am sure that gentle natures would find the content horrifying.  There are a lot of horror elements; zombie-like creatures, mutant-like creatures, narcissistic villains, abductions, aggressive/sentient plants...so much.
  • I found the ending...blah.  And based on comments I've heard from some of you, I think you would find it more than blah, some of you would find it enraging.
  • The pacing is pretty good.  I looked forward to reading.  
  • The narrative maintains multiple perspectives.  It's pretty good that way.
  • The characters are pretty consistent, but I sadly didn't feel like I loved them any more for having spent three books with them.  I would have liked to have felt increased depth to our relationship (hahaha), and I didn't.  
  • There are some peripheral characters in these books I wish Book 3 had spent more time with.  Fandra and the John-John survivors -- they seemed interesting, wish we could've hung out there.  Hastings -- fascinating.  Sedge -- I'd love to know him better.  
  • I wasn't completely sold on the idea that Pressia, Bradwell, Partridge and Lyda were exceptional and unique.  Usually, I can suspend disbelief in a post-apocalyptic novel and accept my hero/ine is a boss because of some cursory explanation as to why he/she is an outlier.  In this novel's case, I felt I never got a truly valid or convincing argument as to why these four were outliers / special cases.  Because you know what?  All of the "wretches" (survivors outside the dome) seemed to be made of tough stuff.  I understand there's "The Seven" -- some of their parents were the Best and Brightest -- but that wasn't enough.  Is there an inherent implication that genetically these four are different because some their parents were important players?  It isn't stated, and I don't think that's a given.  They didn't spend enough time with their parents to claim environmental causes for their unique natures...and if they did, I needed brief allusion to that.  How did Pressia's short time with her mother make her exceptional?  Bradwell?  Partridge?  I wasn't convinced.  I didn't see how Pressia was any more special than any other survivor outside the dome.  In fact, she was less impressive than Fandra -- who made her own future -- if you consider how Pressia was comparatively manipulated into most of what she did.  El Capitan is the exception to this.  I get why he is special -- because there's some exposition there about his Uncle teaching him survival skills -- he had environmental factors (including his unique fusing) which resulted in his status as an outlier.  When Partridge says the solution to all the things is a council made up of (hello!) a list of the the friends he's made outside over the past few weeks...well...it felt like he was reaching and illogical.  If I was convinced of the super-ness of that group, I wouldn't have questioned his partiality. 
  • One group of peripherals that DOES get the treatment they deserve, are the mothers.  They were fantastic to read about.  There's a part where El Capitan shakes in his boots at the mention of the mothers, and I love it.  I am very sorry, however, that one of the antagonists who I am promised an ugly retribution is left a loose end!  What?!  One of the mothers is going to target one of the biggest jerks?!  Tell me it happened!  How!?  I know you're not afraid to go there!
Overall, I wouldn't miss this, if you enjoyed Pure.   Go in with expectations of a continuation with the story rather than a blossoming culmination of it, and you'll be good.

Review copy received from Hachette.

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