Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Fade is possibly the blackest of Cormier’s realist young-adult novels, and there is some question whether it is a young-adult work at all. Cormier seems to be aspiring to the popular adult genre (popular with teenagers, as well) presided over by such writers as Stephen King and V. C. Andrews. The sex, the violence, and, more than anything, the tone of this supernatural story raise questions about its appropriateness for the teenage audience.
The summary printed on the publishing information page (a common practice in young-adult novels) only hints at the violence of the novel: “Paul Moreaux, the thirteen-year-old son of French Canadian immigrants, inherits the ability to become invisible, but this power soon leads to death and destruction,” The novel itself is broken into five uneven parts.
In the first, Paul Moreaux narrates the story of his realization in 1938, at the age of thirteen, of his fateful power. Paul discovers, from his Uncle Adelard, that every generation of this fated family produces a member with the supernatural power to become invisible. The nomadic Adelard has it; now he identifies it in his nephew Paul. The power seems to be a teenager’s fantasy come true: to be able to go into houses unseen and spy on lives. What Paul witnesses while in “the fade,” however, hardly brings him joy: He sees only the evil, including his own, of which humans are capable, especially behind closed doors. In particular, he...
(The entire section is 715 words.)
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Fade was recommended for the World Fantasy Award in 1989. Awards or even award nominations impress older readers, but young adult readers are often even more discriminating, requiring that a novel grasp their attention and keep it: Fade is such a novel. The word riveting is constantly used by Cormier's readers and critics to describe the fast-paced, suspenseful, action- packed books he writes. The other word frequently appearing in Cormier criticism is craftsman. This author carefully selects his words, rewrites sentences many times to achieve the desired effect, and reduces what could be long and boring descriptive passages to brief, sparkling similes and metaphors. In the multi-generational novel-within-a-novel Fade, Cormier develops well-rounded characters, relates a spell-binding tale with his masterful creation of suspense, and leaves his readers with some unanswered, thought-provoking questions. Cormier's world reflects reality with its evil, as well as its goodness. Into that world of reality, however, the author injects one fantasy element—the ability to become invisible, to fade—to examine what effect this power would have on several people. Underlying this world is Cormier's strong belief in religion and morality, which enables him to tackle evil directly in its various forms rather than skirting it or pretending it does not exist.
(The entire section is 205 words.)