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4.0 28
by Robert Cormier

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IT IS THE summer of 1938 when young Paul Moreaux discovers he can “fade.” First bewildered, then thrilled with the power of invisibility, Paul experiments. But his “gift” soon shows him shocking secrets and drives him toward a chilling act.

“Imagine what might happen if Holden Caufield stepped into H. G. Wells’ The Invisible


IT IS THE summer of 1938 when young Paul Moreaux discovers he can “fade.” First bewildered, then thrilled with the power of invisibility, Paul experiments. But his “gift” soon shows him shocking secrets and drives him toward a chilling act.

“Imagine what might happen if Holden Caufield stepped into H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, and you’ll have an idea how good Fade is. . . . I was absolutely riveted.”—Stephen King

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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 Omniscient powerPaul's invisibility and Susan's access to his unpublished workleads to identity-consuming responsibility.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. (Nov . )
Children's Literature
In the first section of Fade, thirteen-year-old Paul is grappling with the normal turmoil of adolescence in the French-Canadian section of his small Massachusetts town. He falls in love with his glamorous aunt, dreams of being a writer, and watches the effects of the Great Depression touch his town. Paul's experiences are typical, with one exception: Paul is a fader. Passed down through his family from uncle to nephew, the ability to disappear initiates Paul to the dark secrets in his town and in himself. Twenty five years later, Paul's cousin Susan discovers Paul's manuscript detailing his adolescent experience of "the fade." She also uncovers another manuscript telling the story of Ozzie, Paul's teenage nephew whose ability to fade is destroying his world. Susan is then left having to judge whether Paul's writing is true and the need to decide what to do with it. Packed with the seemingly opposing forces of tenderness and violence, realism and fantasy, intimacy and disorientation, Fade is another example of renowned author Robert Cormier's skill. Cormier does an excellent job bringing all these seemingly disparate elements together. Although the switching points of view are jarring at first, they fuel a sense intimacy and urgency that drive the piece. Admittedly, the first three-quarters of the book is richer than the conclusion; however, its generally successful balancing-act of disparate genres and elements is certain to appeal to a wide audience of adolescent readers. 2004 (orig.1988), Delacorte Press/Laurel Leaf, Ages 13 to 18.
—Courtney Angermeier
School Library Journal
Gr 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.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.21(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.78(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt



At first glance, the picture looked like any other in a family album of that time, the sepia shade and tone, the formal poses, the men in solemn Sunday suits and the women, severely coiffed, in long skirts and billowing blouses. It was a portrait of my father's family taken before World War I on the front steps of the house in Quebec on the banks of the Richelieu River.

The family moved to New England shortly after the picture was taken, my father along with my grandparents, my five uncles and four aunts, among them my aunt Rosanna, whom I would love all the days of my life.

I discovered the photograph when I was eight or nine years old and was told immediately of its mystery by my cousin Jules, who swore me to secrecy. I found out eventually that the mystery of the photograph was not really a secret, although it provoked various reactions among members of the family. Some dismissed the mystery not as a mystery at all, but as a failure of the camera's mechanism or the result of a childish prank. Others spoke of the mystery in hushed tones, with raised eyebrows, as if even the mere mention of the picture would bring terrible consequences. My grandfather refused to talk about the photograph altogether and acted as if it didn't exist, although it occupied a place in the big family album in the mahogany desk in the parlor at his house.

My father was amused by it all. "Every family has its mysteries," he said. "Some families have ghosts, we have a picture."

The mystery?

In the space that was supposed to have been occupied by my uncle Adelard, at the end of the top row, next to my father, there is simply a blank space. Nothing.

My uncle Adelard had disappeared at the moment the camera clicked and the shutter opened.

My uncle Adelard was always disappearing, going away and coming back again, a drifter whom I regarded as a glamorous figure, an adventurer, although he was thought of as a hobo and a tramp by some of the others in the family.

The family had settled down in Frenchtown on the east side of Monument in Massachusetts along with hundreds of other French Canadians, living in the three-decker tenements and two-story houses, working in the shops producing combs and shirts and buttons, sending their children to St. Jude's Parochial School, and attending mass at St. Jude's Church on Sundays. They shopped every day in the stores on Fourth Street, although they made regular excursions to Monument Center, the downtown shopping district.

I was puzzled by the way the people of Frenchtown accepted the daily grind of the factories, week after week, year after year. My father, for instance. A handsome man who was quick to laugh, he enjoyed a great reputation as a ball

player in the Twilight Industrial League, swift and daring as a base runner and hitting dramatic home runs in the clutch. He danced the quadrilles at weddings with the same kind of quickness, whirling my mother around dizzyingly on the dance floor with whoops of delight while she hung on for dear life. The next morning he trudged his way back to the Monument Comb Shop, where he worked for forty-five years, enduring the layoffs, the lean years of the Depression, and the violence of the strikes.

My uncle Adelard escaped the shops-the daily drudgery and the layoffs and the walkouts-just as he had escaped the photographer's lens in Canada. That was why I felt a kinship with him. In that summer of 1938, I was thirteen years old, timid and shy and sometimes afraid of my own shadow. But in my heart I was brave and courageous like the cowboys in the Saturday afternoon serials at the Plymouth Theater. I felt that I, too, could become a hero if the opportunity presented itself or if I were tested. But there were no opportunities in Frenchtown. I longed to explore the outside world I saw in the movies or heard about on the radio or read about in books. Uncle Adelard was the only person outside my books and movies who had the dimensions of a hero, who dared to be different, who wandered the earth.

And that was why I hounded my father with questions whenever I got the chance. I waited while he listened to the radio and the news of Hitter gobbling up countries in Europe, felt guilty because the photograph was more important to me than the marching armies overseas. But this did not deter me from my purpose. I would gauge his disposition after he snapped off the radio, and if he seemed in a talkative mood, brought up the subject of the photograph.

Sipping the beer he brewed in the porcelain crocks in the cellar, smoking his Chesterfields, he often smiled in resignation and said: "Okay, what do you want to know?" As if I had never asked these questions before.

"Okay, it was a Sunday afternoon, right? And you were all on the front steps up in St. Jacques . . ."

"That's right," my father said, lighting another Chesterfield with a kitchen match scratched on his pants. "We were dressed in our Sunday best in shirts and ties and wool jackets. It was a hot summer afternoon so there was a lot of moving around, a lot of squirming."

"And Uncle Adelard was standing right beside you . . ."

"He sure was," he said. "It was impossible not to notice him. He was restless, refused to stand still. Until your Pèpére turned around and gave him a look. He could shrivel your bones with that look.

"So at last Adelard became quiet, although he still managed to give me a pinch, daring me to flinch or jump."

"And then what happened?"

"Well, nothing. The photographer, Mr. Archambault, snapped the picture when we were all settled down. Rosanna was a baby in your Mèmére's arms and had been fussing a bit. But she fell asleep, dozing nice and quiet. And, bang, the picture was taken."

"Now, tell me what happened when Mr. Archambault brought the picture to the house," I said.

The smell of celluloid clung to my father, a sweet acid smell that emanated not only from his clothes but from his skin as well, even when he emerged from a bath. It was the smell of the material from which combs and brushes were made at the shop. It was the smell of work, the smell of weariness, even the smell of danger because celluloid was highly flammable and sometimes spurted into flame without warning.

Sighing, he said:

"Well, when we looked at the photograph, there was no Adelard. Instead of Adelard, there was a blank space. He had disappeared. . . ."

Meet the Author

Robert Cormier has been called “the single most important writer in the whole history of young adult literature.” In 1991, he received the Margaret A. Edwards Award, honoring his lifetime contribution to writing for teens.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
January 17, 1925
Date of Death:
November 2, 2000
Place of Birth:
Leominster, Massachusetts
Place of Death:
Leominster, Massachusetts
Fitchburg State College

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Fade 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Paige Daniels More than 1 year ago
very good book! brilliantly written and carried out, horrifying twists and plot turns, and an awesome ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She cheered.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*She gets dragged in.*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alot of you don't know who I am, most of you never even talked to me, but its fine to be honest people ignore me and tell me to fu<_>ck myself and to go die. And thats just what ill do.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Kataman1 More than 1 year ago
Mr. Cormier gives us so much in what seemed too short a novel. Paul, the son of a factory worker in depression times is fascinated by a story regarding his uncle. Apparently when a family photo was taken, his uncle somehow disappeared from view in the photo. Paul later learns that this was not a prank but the result a special power that his uncle possesses. Paul also learns that he has the same power. The power is not a gift but in reality it is almost like a drug that has side effects that effect your mind towards violence. Paul must wrestle with the urges caused by the power while he goes through a lot of teenage issues such as the crush he has on his aunt. The author develops a small town, much in the way that Stephan King does with his Castle Rock tales. The characters are rich and extremely interesting and you get to the end of the book too fast to notice. I had read an another excellent book by Mr. Cormier about a teenager with a bicycle (I can't remember the title) who is actually going through psychotherapy while he imagines himself racing on the bike and avoiding dangers. With these two excellent reads under my belt, I will look for more books by the same author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fade explores the advantages and repercussions of the ability to become invisible. It is a science-fiction fantasy novel, but the science is downplayed. Cormier has been praised and criticized for his risky novels which include ¿The Chocolate War¿ and ¿I Am the Cheese¿. Published in 1988, Fade is not Robert Cormier¿s first novel, but is written as if he is just discovering the techniques of the English language. To prove his lack of skill, when examined, Cormier¿s characters lack any deep personality. Fade is written with a very basic vocabulary but would not be appropriate for young children. Robert Cormier¿s language and word choice leaves something to be desired. His descriptions are simplistic and repetitive. The novel lacks mystery. Science Fiction novels explore the unknown. They captivate an audience with their ventures in undiscovered territories. Fade lacks this aspect. Cormier never employs the use of double meanings or other like rhetorical devices which leaves with a dull, dry canvass for his story. Throughout the book he constantly attempts imagery by the use of an abundance of adjectives. His attempt is lost however in the lack of excitement between his words and often by the overuse of adjectives. The format of the book is plain and expected. There are no patters or structure other then that of simplicity. The pages are not aesthetically pleasing because of their lack of structure. They simply regurgitate the story page after page with not even an attempt at change.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When people think about superpowers, what usually comes to mind is one of the Marvel heroes, such as Spiderman, Superman, the Hulk, Batman, etc. But when you pick up a book where ordinary people use superpowers in a realistic manner yet have no possibility of comprehending the repercussions of such a power, the novel becomes more enjoyable and fascinating. In this more mysterious and obscure genre enters a first-rate novel called Fade, written by Robert Cormier. Fade follows the life of thirteen year old Paul Moreaux, a young boy who lives in 20th century America. This young boy possesses a gift which has been passed down generation to generation from the males in his family the ability to ¿fade,¿ to disappear into nothingness whenever and wherever he desires. At first, Paul is both thrilled about and skeptical of this newly founded prospect, but he soon learns the consequences and tribulations that come with such a powerful and dark gift. His juvenile acts lead to discoveries of a sexual nature that is both exciting and rebellious, which gives a dark glow to his character. Paul¿s actions stem from his compulsion to understand the actions of the people around him. When his dad gets involved in the violence of the labor revolts, Paul feels obligated to commit an act that will haunt his life forever. To give away the plot would ruin the amusement that this book provides its readers. The book does an excellent job of playing the innocence of youth off the wisdom of maturity. Paul is at the age where he realizes the seriousness of life and the gravity of it as a whole, but at the same time his immature nature takes over throughout the novel, causing him to perform dark acts and dirty deeds to fulfill his pleasures which he cannot control. As the fading starts to become involuntary, it finally distorts his whole life. Paul learns the hard way about the complexities of the adult world through ¿fading.¿ He also realizes that the power of invisibility doesn¿t provide a cure for life¿s difficulties, misfortunes, or pleasures. This power, as the reader soon discovers, provides no purpose whatsoever, but it does induct evil and misfortune to those who come across its awesome power. Fade is a novel that gives you chills up your spine because it makes you look at your surroundings differently and will make you wonder about the things going on around us that we are unaware of. Cormier does this by mixing fantasy, suspense, and reality into a wonderful, crafted masterpiece. He makes the characters in the novel so real that you would mistake this novel for an autobiography. Fade is original, compelling, and most of all, a surprising novel, a truly fine novel, as it possesses dark powers that do unimaginable things.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you had a supper power a way to make you better than every one else. A way to do things others couldn¿t. What would you do with your powers? Would you have any regrets or any fears of what you have done or would do? How about being a thirteen year old boy who is very lustful and has a very attractive person who lives in his house you can figure out the kinds of thing he does with the power to become invisible the power to fade. Threw most of his life he has had this gift or is this so called gift a curse. The book made me feel like a little kid at first and I was going along with the things Paul the main character was doing. And it brought me into the book. At the ending of the book I felt like there was a lot of regret for the things he had done. And it made me feel regret and it shows there are consequences for your actions. I thought Fade was a great book for a mature audience and it thought me a great lesson of responsibility.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this highly suspenseful novel by Robert Cormier you read about a 13 year old boy who learns to ¿fade¿ or become invisible. This book is full of murder, sex, and violence of all sorts. This book is not recommended for people under the age of 16. Robert Cormier is a highly acclaimed author who is able to capture the mind of the reader and hold them within the confines of the novel until the end. As I read this book I was pulled in and could not put the book down. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure and suspense in a story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a lame book. I didn't even get past 10 pages, because it's lame. Don't read this book, I don't like how its written and the main character is annoying. I recommend Chronicles of Narnia, Crown Duel, Harry Potter series
Guest More than 1 year ago
just to say something first: i am in 8th grade and i just read Fade and i understood it all... but whatever. I read alot and i was in the bookstore one day looking for a book to read. i picked up Fade because i seen it in the store a bunch and i couldnt find anything else that looked very interesting. since there is no excert or whatever on the back i started to read it. All i read was like the first page where Cormier describes the picture and i was hooked. this was an amazing book! i kept you jumping from sides about if what Paul had written was fitcion or autobigraphical. it was exciting and had me on the edge of seat wanting to find out what would happen next. i must admitt that i was told a few times to put it away while reading in class ) but Fade is slightly disturbing in some of its content and might not be sutible for young readers but i read alot and i had no problem with it really. i think at some point everyone should read Fade! it is my favorite or one of my favorite books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book back in '92-'93 I was in 7th or 8th grade. The school librarian rec. this as a perfect read for me. I truely enjoyed this book from beg. to end, but as an adult I have to say that if a teacher were to rec. this book to my 12 or 13yr. old I would be livid!! Looking back the incest, sex and murder were a bit too much even for an advanced student such as myself. I would rec. this book to a 14yr old readers and up!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is full of action and mysteriousness. It keeps you hooked until the very end and i must confess can be confusing at times. It is somewhat gory and violent but any young adult can handle it. Cormier really jumps inside his character and gives plenty detail. This is the fifth robert cormier book i've read and he doesn't fail to impress me. The whole idea for this book wasn't very original, with having a 13 year old figuring out his past and learning to fade or become invisible. Robert cormier displays his own flavor and originality in this book and it's truly a work of art. I strongly recommend this book to anyone
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved the book, but the post 3 before mine really shouldn't have been put up. For that person to have read it in 8th grade they just can't comprehend the vastness cormier talks about. i'm assuming theyre just an average 8th grader. i tried reading in the middle of the night in 6th grade and was totally confused. i waited 2 years then tried the chocolate war (so i was in 8th grade, but i've always been in honors and just have a higher comprehension than this kid or something) since then i've read all of cormier's books. I read fade in 9th grade and even at that, i think it was barely a book i should have read at the time. i just think there are many different things people need a certain intellectual level to enjoy, such as books like this, or movies such as the royal tenembaums. so many people don't understand it. Just wanted to say that 3 posts before this, pretty much disregard that review. it is an amazing book. :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Robert really gave some insight into what really goes on a boys mind, like fear, indecision, confusion,lust and all that stuff. I also like the fact that eventhough Robert gave him the power to fade, he didn't make him out be this super hero who always knew what to do. Even though I like this book, I'm still a little confused. How did his brother die?
Guest More than 1 year ago
An intriguing book, to say the least, FADE does contain some disturbingly explicit material that might make most sensitive readers shy away from it during the first few chapters. If you are not one of those sensitive readers, however, this book contains many elements that make it worth your time. The first half of the book, I must admit, bored me slightly: I am not an avid fan of history, but the sci-fi element of the 'fade' helped to hold my attention until the second half of the book began, with 'Susan.' From there on, I hung on to every word. Although Paul is the character that is furthest developed, I personally felt that Cormier did a much better job when writing the third-person character of Ozzie. His seventy pages worth of material were the ones that rescued this book: beautifully written, with just the right tone, and looking deeply into the motives of this poor and tortured boy [yes, Ozzie.] It was so wonderful that I flew through those pages, reread them many times...and so believable that I found myself comparing the character to someone that I know. In addition, Cormier does an excellent job with descriptions throughout the book. I would encourage everyone to read this book, if just for those seventy pages. Their finale is absolutely heart-wrenching.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Peter Nguyen ¿ 8th FADE By: Robert Cormier From the very first word to the last, Robert Cormier loses the reader interest. This book is boring and does not go anywhere that would interest the reader in anywhere. Sets in Quebec where a thirteen-year-old boy discovers he has the ability to become invisible and becomes a spy in the summer of 1933. Fade is about Paul, a thirteen year old, who falls in love with his Aunt Rosanna and first discovers he can fade while being chased down a dark alley from a bully. He doesn¿t learn to fade until his uncle Adelard, who isn¿t afraid of ghosts, comes down to explain to him and show him how the fade works and how to do it. Learning how to do it now, Paul goes sneaking around spying on his friends and strangers. After a while Paul gets bored and decides to become a writer. Paul publishes a book and decides putting it in the schools journal, but his friends say it isn¿t good enough. He stops writing and goes back to spying on others. What will he do next with invisibility powers? While in fade mode, people can feel your presence when you are near them or even if you are looking at them. Robert Cormier goes into too much detail in this particular book. The things Paul sees and do while spying and snooping around is not a definite storyline a reader would want to read about. This book by Robert Cormier ¿ FADE is as dull as a dishwasher. From chapter to chapter this book will just put you to sleep. No action takes place in this book and there are no exciting conflicts at all. I would not consider this book to be read by another reader.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was one of the first books I had ever read. About 10 years ago I read it. I believe that this book could be the reason why I read so much now. This story was entertaining and disturbing at the same time and for young adults this could be a great book to start a reading carrier with. In the end this was the first story to ever show me what different worlds books can hold.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book dealt with a lot of issues in life, some are intense for young adult readers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read all of Fade in about two days it was so good! I started reading it when I got it and I was hooked instantly. The story really teaches young readers about life. Robert Cormier did a great job writing this book.