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
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 Omniscient powerPaul's invisibility and Susan's access to his unpublished workleads to identity-consuming responsibility.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 . )