Allison's Book Bag

FADE by Lisa McMann

Posted on: August 2, 2010

FADE is my favorite book in the dream trilogy by Lisa McMann. For one thing, all our favorite and not-so-favorite characters have returned. For another thing, this book better succeeds at being more than simply a supernatural thriller. While in the first book Janie discovers she can enter dreams and struggles controlling them, in this follow-up Janie uses her skill to uncover the very realistic and terrifying threat of date rape. She also faces incredible choices about what to do with her gift. While none of us will ever have to deal with the fantastical ability of entering people’s dreams, all of us will do eventually face decisions about our gifts. As such, this book resonated strongly with me after I closed its covers.

At the onset of the book, I feel somewhat disappointed with all the changes in Janie’s life. Best friend, Carrie, isn’t introduced until page thirty and then is described only as “self-centered and immature”. She never struck me as such in WAKE, but definitely seems absorbed with her new boyfriend. Then again, Janie is absorbed with her boyfriend too–and so perhaps that is why Carrie must take a back seat and turn into more of a stock character than a real friend. There are other little changes too such as the fact Janie has quit her nursing home job or now eats Power Bars instead of Snickers.

Yet I have to accept that book characters are going to change just like real people do, even if many other ways the book does pick up where it left off. Caleb is still a secret boyfriend. Janie’s mom is still a cliche drunk parent. And Mrs. Stubin, despite being dead, still conveniently turns up whenever Janie needs guidance on being a dreamcatcher. Oh, also let’s not forget that Shay Wilder (who we still hate) is still mad for Caleb. Most important though, Janie is still using her dream skills for the police.

Actually, the book is largely about her solving a case for them. To figure out who the bad teachers are, the ones who are inviting students to socials that start out innocently but end up being about drugs and sex, Janie and Caleb must become close to all the teachers. Of course, ultimately, Janie needs to gain the trust of those she leasts trust. Initially, I didn’t care for how obvious McMann made the suspect, but eventually greatly appreciated how the investigation played out due to some twists and turns in how Janie handles the case. I also highly commend McMann on her ability to slow down scenes with small details. Kudos to her skill as a literary writer that we are allowed to savor quiet moments, in between the tension of crime.

Just as much it is about a crime mystery, this book is about Janie’s growing relationship with Caleb and with the Captain. I love that Janie squeals over the gift from the Captain and all the other equally fun reactions Janie has upon receiving overdue attention. The Captain slowly becomes the mother Janie never had. I had a more mixed reaction to developments in the relationship between Janie and Caleb. Was the rejection that the two received from apparently all adults just a way to make us feel sympathetic to their decision to have sex? Otherwise, I liked their relationship. The two face all the normal fluctuating struggles that normal couples do including how to handle fights and to love one another without suffocating each other. There are also some awesome tender moments between them, which provide readers with a much more mature relationship than other more frivolous teen romances.

There are other positives I could write about the book, but let me end by referring back to the theme of the book. I could easily dismiss WAKE as simply being another supernatural thriller if not for FADE. It succeeds in going beyond the superficialities of simply trying to scare us. It even succeeds in going beyond being a mature romance. Janie discovers that choices exist about her ability to enter dreams, just the same way we all face momentous decisions about own gifts. In this way, FADE tackles the deeper issues of life and becomes universal.

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

1 Response to "FADE by Lisa McMann"

I twitt it. My twitter on name Alexander Belluchi. You can comment this post there too.

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