FADE

Young Paul Moreaux discovers that he's inherited the ability to disappear at will, and what might have been at least partly a blessing in the hands of another author is in Cormier's hands an unalloyed curse. Paul's French-Canadian family has a secret known to very few: once each generation a "Fader" is born, though the trait doesn't manifest itself until adolescence. Paul lives through 13 peaceful, unmemorable summers before he begins to notice that people can't always see him. His wayward uncle Adelard, the previous generation's Fader, steps in to teach him partial control over the Fade, to caution him against misusing his ability, and to tell him that when the next Fader begins to mature it will be his responsibility to pass on the teaching. Since Paul is an introspective, commonsensical sort, he doesn't try to hurt anyone with his talent, but he does succumb to the temptation to be a voyeur: in quick succession, he catches an ultrarespectable local shopkeeper engaging in oral sex with a teen-age girl, and watches in horror as his elegant, new-found friend Emerson makes love to his own twin sister. Shortly thereafter, Paul kills a man in a fit of anger. These experiences sour him on the whole idea of Fading, and he remorsefully vows never to Fade again. The next generation's Fader is Ozzie Slater, illegitimate, abused so much that his nose is permanently mutilated, with a bone-deep grudge against the entire world. Once he discovers his ability, he immediately kills his adoptive father and goes on a rampage. An older Paul appears on the scene, but by now Ozzie is too far over the edge; after a violent scuffle, Paul finds himself a killer once again. Setting, structure, and characters are woven together in shifting, complex patterns as Paul finds out that the Fade is a terrible burden, capable of doing more harm than good: Cormier has once again produced a profoundly disturbing, finely crafted gem that's hard, cold, and brilliant.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0385731345

Page Count: 318

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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