When I go browsing for new reads, I tend to gravitate towards unfamiliar titles. I’m sure that some of the current popular titles are excellent (SOME, not all). But I like looking for buried gems.
So when I picked up Pam Bachorz’s Candor, it was out of sheer “I’ve-never-heard-of-this” curiosity. I was pulled in by the tagline: “In this town, you are what you hear.”
Candor by Pam Bachorz
Egmont USA, 2009
Courtesy of Amazon.com:
In the model community of Candor, Florida, every teen wants to be like Oscar Banks. The son of the town’s founder, Oscar earns straight As, is student-body president, and is in demand for every club and cause.
But Oscar has a secret. He knows that parents bring their teens to Candor to make them respectful, compliant–perfect–through subliminal Messages that carefully correct and control their behavior. And Oscar’ s built a business sabotaging his father’s scheme with Messages of his own, getting his clients out before they’re turned. After all, who would ever suspect the perfect Oscar Banks?
Then he meets Nia, the girl he can’t stand to see changed. Saving Nia means losing her forever. Keeping her in Candor, Oscar risks exposure . . . and more.
Strengths: LOVED this book. It was a bit of a mash up of some of my favorites–a little bit Stepford Wives, a little bit 1984, a little bit M.T. Anderson’s Feed, and a protagonist with a little Robert Cormier edge.
Oscar Banks is cut from my favorite cloth–he’s genuinely smart, likable…and flawed. Knowing that those who live in Candor are being slowly but surely brainwashed by the “messages,” Oscar views himself as a rogue, a savior. He helps teens (new ones) escape Candor, but is pulled into using the same underhanded methods to do it. It’s all in a day’s deception that he meets Nia, the beautiful new rebel in Candor. The evolution of his relationship with her, and his struggles to come to terms with his methods show an incredible depth of character.
Bachorz also creates more characters you will love–Nia–and still others you’ll love to hate. Her pacing is effective, and her build-up to the ending is masterful. It’s a stunning debut novel–futuristic, but just present-day enough to make your skin crawl.
Potential Flaws: Flaws? What flaws?