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FADE by Robert Cormier is a powerful book dealing with incest, violence, serial murder, and the disintegration of personality through obsession. But, as usual, Cormier deals with these dark subjects with compassion and grace.

Thirteen-year-old Paul Moreaux can fade. Although it had happened before, this was the first time that he was aware that something was different:

"I was in the pause again, caught in that strange place between darkness and light, my breath taken away, panic racing along my flesh. And then the flash of pain, as if my body were a taut wire through which bolts of electricity passed, unendingly, excruciatingly. At the point where I had gathered myself to scream, the pain fled, the pause ended, air filled my lungs and the cold vanished. I was suddenly whole again, restored, intact, visible, here and now --- Paul Moreaux, in the second-floor tenement of my grandfather's house on Eighth Street. Everything the same as before. But not really the same again. Never to be the same again."

But before he discovers this ability, strange happenings are going on in Monument, where Frenchtown is located. There are rumors of bonfires and pagan rituals and the appearance of ghosts. And Paul is infatuated with his Aunt Rosanne, who has finally returned after a long absence.

Before the end of summer, Paul learns that he is a fader and finds that he has inherited the ability from his Uncle Adelard, that the gift is passed down from uncle to nephew. This explains why his Uncle Adelard is always disappearing and no one knows why. This opens up a world of possibilities as he begins to spy on his friends. But, he quickly learns that he sees things that he would rather not know. Paul is now unattackable in his invisibility.  

Will Paul become the writer he wants to be? Will his ability to fade turn him into a monster, committing crimes he would not dream of doing if he were visible? Or will he remain the sweet, sensitive person that his Uncle Adelard believes he is? Will he find his nephew Ozzie in time to save him?  

FADE will leave the reader with a feeling of fright that this could really happen, that there might be things going on around us that we never know. Cormier says that once the book was finished he couldn't stop writing about the characters; that he continued to write more scenes from their lives. "I like to leave the reader with a sense that there are things still going on, that they don't walk off into the sunset. Or even if they walk off into the sunset, there's probably a cliff waiting right around the corner." And this is what makes his writing so riveting and suspenseful.

Reviewed by Audrey Marie Danielson on September 1, 1991

by Robert Cormier

  • Publication Date: September 1, 1991
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf
  • ISBN-10: 0440210917
  • ISBN-13: 9780440210917