Saturday, December 18, 2010

FCSS Week 2: Book Review: Fade by Lisa McMann

Fade (Dream Catcher #2) by Lisa McMann

Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416974482
ISBN-13: 978-1416974482
Source: Books-A-Million
Cover: I'm not wild about this cover either. I'm not even sure how it fits into the entire story but it looks good with the other too and the water is cool so I'll go with it. I guess I don't have strong feelings either way.
First Sentence: "Janie sprints through the snowy yards from two streets away and slips quietly through the front door of her house."

The Mini-Review: Coming back with characters to love and the same stunning lyrical writing as the first, Fade is a fully realized journey into the life a girl with an extraordinary gift.

The Book Summary:

For Janie and Cabel, real life is getting tougher than the dreams. They're just trying to carve out a little (secret) time together, but no such luck.

Disturbing things are happening at Fieldridge High, yet nobody's talking. When Janie taps into a classmate's violent nightmares, the case finally breaks open--but nothing goes as planned. Not even close. Janie's in way over her head, and Cabe's shocking behavior has grave consequences for them both.

Worse yet, Janie learns the truth about herself and her ability--and it's bleak. Seriously brutally bleak. Not only is her fate as a dream catcher sealed, but what's to come is way darker than she'd even feared...

The Review:

Fade takes the same beautiful prose, amazingly complex and real characters, and adds what the last novel lacked-- a true plot. There was someplace this novel was going and it used every page to artfully arrive there. 

Coming back into Janie's world was hard at first. The last novel left her off at such a good place. There were still things wrong in her life but you could tell that things were going to get better. Of course, that doesn't make for a very interesting story. McMann did a wonderful job cutting the strings of the package she tied together in the first novel one at a time. The thing that's so hard about this is letting the character retain the lessons and knowledge they gathered in the first novel for these new challenges. It is here that Janie;s character truly excels. We knew Janie was strong in the first novel, but she because a true hero in this next installment. I feared that with the new addition of Cabel in her life, she may lose some of her independence but this didn't happen. She wanted to make a difference and did everything in her power to make that happen.

Cabel was also a great character because he continued to battle with his own demons while trying to fight with a whole new set of fears now that his feelings deepened. I think his withdrawal throughout the novel was a powerful reminder that both his and Janie's journey isn't over yet and there isn't ever a happy ending. I loved that he was an amazing boyfriend but that he was also flawed.

Cabel and Janie's relationship continued to grow in a realistic way. They had to learn how to connect with each other not just physically-- though that was a large part of their relationship because of the lack of love in their lives prior to finding each other-- but also emotionally. McMann did a wonderful job of layering a lot of complex and intense emotions into the way they act and react to each other.

The writing style really suited this story. I've heard a lot of people say that it's hard for them to read it but I love its simplicity. I did have a hard time with the first few chapters until my brain got used to the way McMann writes and then I could appreciate how beautiful simple words could be. This simplicity really worked to convey complex emotions in their rawest form and I don't think that would have been achieved as effectively without the lyrical prose. I also appreciated how even though Janie's life was getting better, she was still rough around the edges and so the writing lent itself to that as well. I'd mentioned in my last review how the language had threw me off in the first installment but I was prepared for it this time and was glad to see it back, achieving the same means as it had previously.

For me, it was the plot that made this novel better than the first. I was interested in what was going on with Janie in the first one but I felt like there was a lot of time wasted where the reader couldn't see where the story was going. In this novel, Janie has a purpose-- to find out which teacher has been taking advantage of their students-- and that made the story all the more interesting. Coupled with her dreams and her intuition, Janie reaches deep and has to find strength in herself. I felt McMann handled the touchy topic of student molestation very tastefully showing us both the ugly side and the strength one can find in themselves in equally parts.

I also really liked the consequences of Janie's power. I read a book once on building believable magic systems and one of the most important things about it is cost. You can't just have magic with no ramifications. You need to give up something in return. So I loved that McMann finally told us the cost of what Janie could do. And I love that Janie was willing to accept it by the end. That, if nothing else, showed her strength.

Fade gives us a true hero who rises above her circumstances to do something incredible, even if it means risking everything she has. It gives us a plot that lends to that idea and makes the pages fly by. And then it gives us Cabel to lean on after we've gone through the worst of it. Fade truly is magnificent and is one of those rare novels that succeeds at being better than the first.



  1. It certainly is unusual for the second book in a series to be even better. I haven't read either of these two yet although they are on my wishlist. The characters sound great

  2. I'm glad Fade was better than Wake but it was really hard for me to get through Wake because of the writing style...


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