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Fade Paperback – September 14, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Much of Cormier's fiction poses a paradox: you are most alive just as outside forces obliterate your identity. Cormier's protagonists want to be anonymous, and their wishes are fulfilled in nightmarish ways. In Fade , which encompasses three stories in three decades, 13-year-old Paul discovers an incredible secret gift: he can become invisible. His long-lost uncle appears, to tell Paul that each generation of the family has one fader, and to warn him of the fade's dangers. Paul, however, abuses his power and quickly learns its terrible price. Twenty-five years later, Paul, a successful writer, confronts the next fader, his abused nephew Ozzie, whose power is pure vengeance. And 25 years after that, in 1988, Paul's distant cousin Susan, also a writer, reads his amazing story, and must decide if Paul's memoir is fact or fiction. Fade is an allegory of the writer's life. Paul's actions stem from his compulsion to understand the behavior of the people around him; Susan's questions and her awful dilemma, which concludes the book, result from her near-pathological writer's focus on other persons, a purpose her unreachable late cousin serves well. Omniscient powerPaul's invisibility and Susan's access to his unpublished workleads to identity-consuming responsibility. At its best, Fade is an examination of the writer's urge to lose identity and become purely an observer. As in all Cormier's novels, the protagonists are ciphers whose only affirming action seems to be to assert, however briefly, that they exist. The story is gripping, even when it approaches melodrama, and Cormier concentrates on each action's inner meaning. Fade works better as allegory than as fantasy; this is Cormier's most complex, artful work. He seems to challenge himself as a writer, and in doing so, offers a respectful challenge to his readers. Through him, they will discover the extremes of behavior in the quietest human soul. Ages 13-up.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 10-12 Those who find Cormier's novels bleak, dark, disturbing, and violent will not be disappointed with his latest. And true to his past, he has given readers a story with more twists and turns than a mile of concertina wire. The first half is set in Frenchtown, a working-class section of a Massachusetts town. The time is the 1930s, and the evocation of life among the French-Canadians (with marvelous names like Omer LaBatt and Rudolphe Toubert), who toiled in sweatshops where celluloid combs were made, is the best thing about the novel. Not that the story line doesn't work. Cormier uses an old device that guarantees attentiona lead character who can make himself invisible. The rules for fading are as complicated as a missile defense treaty. Paul Moreaux is the teenage fader who narrates the first section, an autobiographical account written after he has become a famous novelist. Readers learn early on that there is a grim side to this gift of fading and that Cormier intends it to represent a potentially evil force within us all. Subsequent sections include a narration by a present-day female cousin, which throws into question the truth of the entire first section, and a concluding section that features another cousin who can fade but who is certainly mad and possibly possessed. So the novel has a bit of many things: magic, murder, mystery, history, romance, diabolical possession, sex (not a lot, but what there is is explicit), and even a touch of incest. The character of Paul is developed especially well. The story is too long, and the plot is too contrived to be taken seriously, but Fade is riveting enough to be appreciated by Cormier fans. Robert E. Unsworth, Scarsdale Junior High School, N.Y.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (September 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385731345
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385731348
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #346,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Stone Junction on October 17, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When the average person thinks about 'super-powers', what likely comes to mind is the usual conglomeration of superhero comic books, cartoons, movies, and television shows; a muscular gentleman in tights and a cape, not unlike a professional wrestler. But far more intriguing, and satisfying, are the more literal takes on the theme, whereby ordinary people react in a realistic manner to powers they have no possibility of comprehending. I think of novels such as Stephen King's THE DEAD ZONE (telekinesis), Paul Auster's MR. VERTIGO (levitation), and Jim Munroe's FLYBOY ACTION FIGURE COMES WITH GASMASK (transmogrification), or the Bruce Willis/Samuel L. Jackson movie UNBREAKABLE; examples of day-to-day people struck down by the impossible. Into this more rarefied genre enters a sterling example of the hazzards of the unknown, FADE, by Robert Cormier.
FADE follows the life of Paul Moreaux, a young boy growing up in early 20th century America. His family is constantly struggling with the labour and union problems of the time, and Paul himself has learned from his similarly inflicted uncle that he is cursed with a gift that is not what it seems; Paul has inherited the ability to 'fade', to disappear into nothingness on a whim. While at first appropriately thrilled at the prospect, Paul soon realizes the dilemma that comes with such a gift. His juvenile thrill-seeking leads to discoveries of a sexual nature both exciting and perverse, and deeply unsettling. And as his father becomes enmeshed in the violence of the labour revolts, Paul finds himself compelled to commit an act that will haunt his every move for the rest of his life.
To give away any more of the plot would be to ruin the pleasures that such a novel provides.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bibliotherapy on August 2, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
From the opening line of Fade, Robert Cormier pulls the reader into 13-year-old Paul Moreaux's world. Paul is looking at a photograph of his father's family and there is one person missing from the picture - his Uncle Adelard. According to family lore, Adelard was standing right there when the photo was snapped, but when the picture was developed, Adelard was nowhere to be seen. What Paul learns later, is that Adelard faded at the moment the photo was taken, and Paul has inherited this same ability to disappear. The ability to fade is passed down from uncle to nephew and only one member of each generation inherits the trait. The plot is unpredictable and complex. The first part of the novel, narrated by Paul, takes him from pleasant tentative attempts at fading to witnessing actions that horrify him.

Fade is classic Cormier. It is filled with details that bring the reader right into the story. He honestly and convincingly portrays Paul's internal struggles and Paul quickly learns that the ability to become invisible is more a curse than a blessing. The rich narrative is as absorbing, suspenseful, and captivating as the events are dark and troubling. Touching on mature topics including incest and serial murder, with some truly graphic descriptions, this novel is best suited for older teenagers.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Jane on May 17, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Robert Cormier's unique knack for capturing the turmoil of adolescence (and to a lesser extent adulthood) with a haunting sense of melancholy is displayed perfectly in this beautiful novel.
The book focuses on Paul, a boy who discovers he can "fade," or become invisible; a gift inherited from his uncle and passed on to Paul's future nephew. Paul sees it as a useful feature, but the things he sees while in the Fade shock and disturb him, alienating his from his friends, causing him to view the world in a different way. The bits narrated by Sally, the interlude by Paul's cousin, and the Olly section at the end are all well done and spice up the plot, but it's Paul's narration that I find most fascinating.
The author hasn't written a fantasy novel, he uses the fade to expand the idea of coming to terms with change and the pain suffered because of this supernatural ability. Just as Cormier exaggerated the search for identity in I Am The Cheese, he seems to use the fade as a metaphor for growing up. The initial delight, the confusion and disgust towards the things that corrupt innocent eyes, the weary character that emerges... all seem to link to the author's recurring theme of adolescence.
As usual, the characters conjured up are memorable and unique, and I love the way Paul's cousin casts them in different lights and adds a new dimension, challenging us to choose who we believe.
Aside from Paul, Olly is probably the boy that I remember most vividly; Paul's nephew who inherited the fade. Unwanted, he goes through life lonely and rejected, loved only by the nun that takes pity on him. When he discovers his ability to Fade, he sees it as a great tool and a secret only he knows, but soon becomes paranoid that people know about "his secret" and plan to conspire against him.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "streetpenguin" on April 27, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am 14, in the eighth grade, and was assighned to read a book by Robert Cormier for my honors english class. I have read "I Am the Cheese," "Tenderness," "In the Middle of the Night," "Frenchtown Summer," "The Bumblebee Flys Anyway," and "The Chocolate War," besides "Fade," the book I decided to do my report on. I thought "Fade" was the most moving book I have ever read by him. I made a link with Paul's desperite feeling of slow isloation, was horrified by Ozzie's horrible acts toward the bum, and definitely identified with Susan's perspective of the book, and what ran through her head when she was reading it. I think it is the best book i have ever read by Cormier. The end of the book had my eyes glued open and my hands clutching the book, along with all sorts of wild thoughts running through my head like, "what if someone really CAN fade? what if i'm not really alone in this room at all?" speaking from the perspective of the age this book was written for, the book "Fade" may start out slow, but it's worth it. Frenchtown and it's people are now real in my mind. In my oppionion, the whole book is a carefully crafted and manuevered masterpeice anyone my age can wonder and connect with. Cormier is the only author I have ever read who can make the most unbelievable, overdone subject in the world breathtakingly real. So if you are thinking of reading or buying the book, I say DO IT! (I dont think adults would appreciate it though, and it would make a wierd gift.) ...
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