From the title and the first part of this novella, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a children’s book – so be warned, it isn’t! Aside from some annoying errors and slightly clunky dialogue, the first part (of three) of the story reads well. We are pitched into the world of Bobby Ravenelle, a typical kid into bikes, comics and hanging out with his friends. Intrigue is developed nicely as references to an upcoming festival, ‘The Melt’, are dropped into the story. We gradually learn that this is a whole town event and involves local councillors collecting metal items from the
We gradually learn that this is a whole town event and involves local councillors collecting metal items from the townspeople to be melted down to create an offering. But things aren’t quite right: Bobby’s bike is ‘collected’ but on the wrong day; his mum is behaving oddly; a lady Bobby assists reacts strangely when she learns his name. Author Caspar Vega sets up the story well, managing to create a familiar world that is different. You want some answers to the questions he has raised and, come the day of ‘The Melt’ you are not disappointed; part one ends on a cliffhanger that draws you successfully into part two.
However, for me, much of the good work established in part one was dismantled in the middle section. Here we stumble from one cliché to the next, linked by unconvincing dialogue and poorly constructed scenes. The protagonist, Fritz, is a private investigator who, years before, escaped from the strange town, but he hasn’t forgotten about the wrongdoings there and is planning to return to set things right. While it isn’t necessary to like the would-be hero in a story, it is difficult to establish an emotional engagement with such an irritating and unlikeable character, worse I suspect that we are supposed to like him and find him funny.
Although the final part of the story remains unconvincing, the action here is clearly described and not too far-fetched. The story draws to a close with an epilogue which returns us to the perspective of Bobby (who somewhat alarmingly seems to be adopting some of Fritz’s characteristics), and this does give the story a sense of symmetry and closure. Overall, an intriguing opening that lost its way and my interest.
Length: 102 pages
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