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SA Partridge

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A trio of reviews

Being bored at work does sometimes pay off. I found three very nice reviews of Fuse scattered across the net.

Fuse by S.A. Partridge

First off, Jay Heale reviewed Fuse for Bookchat

What puzzles me is why this author’s previous book, The Goblet Club, won prizes. This teenage novel is far better. It’s real, sadly believable, harsh and thoughtful. Two brothers (one adopted) run away from an over-strict father and a bullying school – and also from a weird “friend’ set on a life of destructive crime. They hang around the streets of Cape Town, then make their way to Pretoria and shack up with a drug-dealing cousin. Hardly any part of their life on the run gives any joy, apart from their growing reliance on each other. Here’s an author who is learning all the time.

David Seven reviewed the book for his blog .

The scene is set rather convincingly as Kendall Mullins is introduced to us as a misfit in a typical South African school. He makes friend with another misfit, Craig, and together they face the world. Except Craig has something more sinister planned for their tormentors.

Things go very wrong, and Kendall ends up on the run from the police, and his family. He is accompanied by his older brother, Justin, and the two of them move from place to place.

It is lovely to find a book with such a rich South African texture, without being overly stereotypical of SA culture. It could be set anywhere, but it is clear where it is set. As a work of Youth fiction, the book manages to avoid coming across as childish or patronising. The emotions and decisions are very real, and the language is simple, but effective.
Well worth the read I think.

Last but not least, Fuse was a featured review in The July/August edition of The Cape Librarian

S.A. Partridge is a young South African woman whose first novel, The Goblet Club won the MER Prize for Best Youth Novel in 2008. Her second teen novel is very readable and will, I hope, gain her a wider readership.

The publisher is to be commended on giving this such an appropriate and appealing cover. It tells the story of two brothers: Kendall in Grade 11 who was adopted. He is the typical outsider, friendless and bullied at school, while the older Justin is good-looking and popular with the fairer sex. Although at home they are close and form a front against their brutal father and ineffectual mother, at school they keep their distance. Craig is a new boy in the school and an outsider too. When he befriends Kendall the boy can hardly believe his luck. But Craig is an extremist who wants to blow up the school, Columbine-style.

Kendall goes along with his plans, but when he sees that Craig is serious he backs out. The police arrest Craig and his bomb-making kit and it is then that Justin comes up with a plan to protect his brother whom he knows to be innocent. This plan goes awry and the boys run away to the city from the suburb of Parow. There they live on the streets until they scrape enough money together to travel to Pretoria to stay with their uncle. He is a drug addict who lives in squalor and who wants the boys to sell dagga for him. So even though they have a roof over their heads, their lives are as precarious and dangerous as when they lived on the streets. Eventually the law catches up with them, with Kendall being arrested for bomb-making and Justin for shop-lifting at the supermarket where he is a packer. Their father comes to collect them, but with an airline ticket for only one son!

I thoroughly enjoyed this and read it in one sitting – but the novel is fast-moving, exciting, realistic and moving in parts, clichéd and improbable in others. It is very easy to read with no extraneous descriptions. One identifies with the characters and it is good to see the changing and developing relationship between the two brothers and their deep love for one another. Each boy has their faults – Justin is prone to crime and also controlling, Kendall is a bit of a wimp. I really liked the part where they go to a Goth club in Pretoria and it is there that Kendall feels part of a group for the first time in his life. For me, the writing here is the strongest. Partridge does not shy away from the ugly aspects of life and a lot of what she writes about here is not nice at all. But it is real and above it all there is the brotherly love which gets the boys through the tough times. As

I have said, the writing is a bit uneven, but I think that this writer shows promise and I look forward to her next novel. JdeB

Thanks for the love! – Sally

 

Recent comments:

  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    September 7th, 2010 @00:34 #
     
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    So nice when the Net delivers carrots -- and more than that, Sally, this book is making folk think and talk.

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  • <a href="http://davidseven.wordpress.com" rel="nofollow">davidseven</a>
    davidseven
    September 7th, 2010 @11:10 #
     
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    Oh look at me! I'm (almost) famous!
    :-)

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  • <a href="http://www.sapartridge.co.za" rel="nofollow">Sally</a>
    Sally
    September 7th, 2010 @11:43 #
     
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    Hey David, thanks for the awesome review.

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