Monday, February 10, 2014

Burn by Julianna Baggott- Review, Interview and Giveaway!

From Goodreads:
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?

I have had nothing but love for this series. As far as dystopian/post-apocalyptic stories go, the Pure trilogy has had some of he best world building and intriguing dynamics between characters I've read to date. In Pure and Fuse she's laid  the groundwork for a finale of epic proportions, building towards the clash of those within the dome and those without as well as all the warring factions of the fused. Although I enjoyed the ending to this series, it was not what I had expected, and for that I imagine it'll disappoint some of her readers (although I really liked that it challenged the reader by going a different route).

This series, which started off being so much about the struggle between the two groups of survivors, became a character piece for me. Each of her various characters begin an arc of discovery about themselves, what they want in life, how they understand those around them, as they stop simply surviving and start actively pursuing something, be it rebellion or salvation. I especially loved this element of the story as it pertained to Helmud and El Capitaine, who it turns out, are full of surprises.

Unlike so many books these days, Baggott does not tie this series up with a big bow at the end. There are many story threads left unanswered and a wide room left for speculation on what happens next. Always a risky move by an author.  I liked how thought provoking it made this last piece of the story. I spent a lot more time pondering what would happen next or why things played out the way they did, which was a nice touch. Though I freely admit this is likely the element of the book which will prove the least popular among general readers.

An excellent series which will appeal to a broader audience then post-apocolyptic stories generally do, and one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend. But hey, don't take my word for it, keep scrolling through this post for your chance to win one of three hard cover copies of Burn (US and Canada shipping only). Giveaway ends February 16th at midnight.
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Burn, by Julianna Baggott
Published by Grand Central Publishing, February 4th, 2014
My copy kindly provided by the publisher
Buy Burn on Amazon

Julianna Baggott took a few minutes to answer some of my burning questions about the series, now that it's done.

-Were there any plot or character revelations that surprised you in Burn? Anyone you intended to kill off that you just couldn't let die or a direction you didn't intend to take that cropped up while writing?

Always. I write with a map drawn out and I knew certain things were going to happy while still editing the first book, PURE, but no matter how many maps and how tightly configured, I'm always surprised by what I couldn't have imagined until I'm inside of a character in a scene and they think or remember or imagine or realize something I didn't expect. I was surprised by Partridge most of all. I wanted him to be conflicted but I didn't know how brutal his options would be or what turn he'd decide to take.
-El Capitan and Helmud go through one of the biggest character transitions/growths, and some of the biggest personal reveals of any of the characters of the series, and were my personal favourites while reading; can you tell me a bit about how they developed for you?

I'd set out to write a villain in El Capitan, and I fell in love with him. No one is a villain in their own mind and certainly El Capitan had to pay for his crimes in some way. But I was stunned by how keenly he wanted to pay and needed redemption. Helmud is a dream to write -- an angel, wiser than we'll ever know.

-One of my favourite elements of your world building was all the various levels of fusings, from Pressia with her doll hand, to the Mothers and progressing in severity through groupies onto Dusts. In the beginning it seemed to me that the worse the fusing the more unbalanced someone tended to be. As the novels progressed I liked that it wasn't as cut and dry as it seemed and there were many levels of intelligence hidden among these people. I was particularly curious how or why you decided to affect mental capability and things like speech with your fused characters?

I'd written about twins conjoined at the head in a poem, based on two real sisters, and when I fully imagined their lives, they wanted no sympathy. In fact, they seemed to feel sorry for us. While their brains cross-pollinated, electrically firing, our thoughts stall lonesomely with nowhere to go. There's also the idea that our siblings are sometimes people we bear -- burdens we haul around with us forever, figuratively speaking. Why not make that literal?

-There were many, many secrets left unrevealed and questions left unanswered at the end of the series. Would you ever go back and revisit the world, maybe tell the stories of other survivors?

I'd love to do some one-offs -- short stories by specific characters. Yes. Maybe flashbacks to fill in the past or where they went from here.

-Now that they've completed your series, can you recommend three books for fans to continue on with? Either books you've fallen in love with recently or maybe research books you found particularly interesting while working on the series?

The Kept by James Scott -- it's just come out. An adult novel, historically set, but beautiful and brutal.

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer comes out any day now. It's what I'm reading next, the first in a trilogy.

And Lee Smith's new novel just arrived at my house, too; it came out this fall and is titled Guests on Earth.


  1. I have not started this series, but your review and the great things you have had to say about them made me out the series on my list! I also very much enjoyed the author interview. I always love to hear more from author! So far my favorite book from 2014 has been a MG book I read, Rules by Cynthia Lord.

    Thanks for sharing!

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