Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Book Review: Fade by Robert Cormier

Title: Fade

Author: Robert Cormier

Pages: 320

Summary (from AllReads.com):

At the age of 13, in the summer of 1938, Paul Moreaux discovers he
can
"fade" -- that is, cause himself and his clothing to disappear from
the
sight of others at will. He lives in the small Massachusetts town of
Monument, in the working-class Canadian Catholic quarter known as
Frenchtown. At
first, he is
thrilled with the things he can do -- spy on
his beloved but
loose Aunt Rosanna, and the wealthy twins across town,
Emerson and Page Winslow
-- but there are larger problems swirling about
him: The comb factory where his
father is employed goes on strike, and
Rosanna's lover Rudolphe Toubert is a
brutal
hoodlum who controls much
of the criminal activity in town. Paul also
learns that his "gift" brings
him knowledge about others and himself that he
wishes he never had.

Paul can Fade.

One second, he's there, the next he isn't. Just like that.

At first, he's thrilled: we've all wished we had the ability to vanish from sight, spy on our friends and family (if you say you don't, your a liar). He now has the opprotunity to observe his Aunt Rosanna, attractive and proud of it. He can watch the people in his town behind closed doors, discover who they really are without risking being caught. Every teenage boy's dream, right?

But then, as time goes on and more and more dark secrets are revealed, Paul begins to wish he never had the Fade.

This novel is definetly not for the easily offended. There are some touchy subject matter such as incest, depictions of minor sexuality, murder, mental illness, and child abuse. While accesable, it is pretty disturbing at times. Okay, really disturbing at times.

This story has a total of three narrators; Paul, a young up and coming publisher (and distant cousin of Paul's) who discovers Paul's (who had become a writer) final manuscript before his death---which proves to be the rest of the novel thus far. As she reads it, she begins to wonder. Is this really an autobiography? Did all this happen?

The third narrator, I feel, will definetly spoil it for anyone who has not read it yet, so I'm not going to mention him. But, trust me, his narrative is probably the most unsettling of the three.

I think the highlight of Fade is master storyteller Robert Cormier's ability to take these dreary--often horrific--subjects and themes and make them incredably easy to read. Things like incest and adultary is described in a way that kids can understand. I first read Fade when I was eight, and I remember thinking, "wow, this is wack" while, only days earlier, I had read a book about the exact same subject matter, and having no idea what they were talking about. Cormier's ability to connect with a younger audience is astounding, and his charactors and prose just add to his status as one of the best YA authors of all time.

It's impossible to describe much of Fade because everything about is twisted together in a way that makes near everything a spoiler. I guess you'll just have to take my word for it; Fade will leave you breathless with it's surreal, eery tone and it's strong, layered characters.

Rating: 9 out of 10---an instant classic.

Also: If I were you, I'd go out right now and buy all of Cormier's books--most notably After the First Death, Tenderness, We All Fall Down, and The Rag and Bone Shop.

5 comments:

Sarbear said...

This one sounds good!

Jessica (BookLover) said...

You've convinced me! I've added it to my wishlist. :)

Nikola said...

I like the way this sounds! Thanks for the review!

J. Kaye said...

Wow...I am adding this to my list!

Patty Campbell said...

Thanks so much for this thoughtful review, Daniel. My friend Bob Cormier would have loved it. You understood exactly what he was doing in this book.
Patty Campbell, author of Robert Cormier: Daring to Disturb the Universe

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