No kidding–Reading the haunting account of Paul Moreaux, the main protagonist of Robert Cormier’s 1988 novel, Fade, feels like bumping into Holden Caulfield again in another place and time. Think Catcher in the Rye with superpowers. Served with a playful dash of fantasy, the book ironically brings dark realities to life with its stunning pace and twists. This book is utter brilliance from cover to cover. Trust me, even Stephen King says so.
I devoured the narrative in a day and a half, which is yes, quite longer than the usual time it takes for someone who’s bragging how exciting a book was. I am not making excuses here, and I don’t care if you don’t believe me, but halfway through the book, I needed to pause and hold myself because I’m legit shaking. And scared if I still could handle the horror. Honest. It’s not everyday you find a book like this, and I’m just so happy I chanced upon it. Ah, my bookworm heart rejoices.
The book is unpretentious. From the straightforward title alone, you could already get a good grasp of what major premise the story will be about. In nutshell, it’s the tale of a thirteen year old Frenchtown boy who discovered he inherited the power to fade on the summer of 1938 aka the Great Depression decade. Simple enough, yes. I was bracing myself for a truckload of ghost novels’ clichés, too. But OMG, it had me on the first page alone. Curiosity piqued, I was eventually drawn to the beautiful, almost achingly lyrical passages of Cromier’s storytelling prowess. He writes about growing up like painting a portrait, and if this is a movie, I definitely would commend the cinematographic nature of his narratives. The characters are so real you feel like they’re family. And yet beneath their layered personas are actually hidden oddities that will either seduce or disgust you.
For its genre, the novel might seem oddly darker for the audiences it targets. I still could not convince myself how the themes discussed in this book qualify under the ‘Young Adult’ genre, when it certainly requires maturity beyond pubescent readers. Not that I’m complaining, since I am a young adult too. But hey, at some points I find myself on the brink of barfing, so it’s either I still have baby brains or this is purely a jawbreaker too hard to chew. Perhaps I just believe this book could cater to a bigger market if not for the unfortunate genre it was labelled under. I am of the opinion this is somewhat of an injustice to how great the book was, but what can I do?
It’s awesome when a book is able to bring out genuine feelings from its readers. I actually miss the feeling of being so engrossed inside a story that I find myself shrieking or giggling or whatever mental response my mind could process involuntarily when a plot goes wild. To this day I could only name a few books whose pages really gave me the shudders. And Cromier’s Fade certainly didn’t fail me in bringing that awesome feeling back.
I must say, finishing the story was such an experience. For the first time ever, I congratulated myself for being such a brave reader for having stomached the spellbinding, spine-shivering genius of Cormier. How exactly did I feel after the last page? Extremely Frightened. There isn’t any disclaimer at the beginning of the book that it is based on a true story but towards the end your mind will be paranoid of the seemingly convincing possibility that it could be. And I sure pray it isn’t, because I will go nuts.
I confess though, that I’ve been quite hesitant to post this book review because the book is so wonderful it feels like too much of a good secret to share. But what the hell, I would love for hungry bookworms like me to experience the same magic. So there, I wholeheartedly recommend it. But take my advice though, do not read this at night, because this is certainly not a fairytale that will give you good dreams to sleep through. If anything, the book would guarantee consecutive fright nights and a terribly confused mind.
Fade will no doubt haunt you with the lingering truth that the world is indeed, not a safe place for any of us.