Monday, August 30, 2010

REVIEW: Candor by Pam Bachorz

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.

Let me start by apologising to my readers for that cover. I'm sorry, I know that some people have issues with the wasp. But what can I say? I kind of love it. I think it fits wonderfully with the story, much better than the boy with the headphones. This one stands out more. I had to use it.

I'm still not really sure what I think of Candor. On the one hand, I thought it was creepy and loved the subject matter. A Stepford-Wives-esque town, subliminal messages, that wasp on the front cover - all very shudder-inducing. But on the other hand, I didn't feel very emotionally connected to Oscar or any of the characters. He keeps going on about being 'perfect' but he doesn't treat people very well.

It was an interesting concept, having these messages played out, but only in this one town as opposed to a national or worldwide thing like other dystopias. The motivations of Oscar's father seemed believeable as to why he would go to these lengths, but the power one person has over everyone in this one town is a horrifying thought. The messages seem to originate through the idea that unruly teenagers involved in illegal activity, promiscuity or drugs could come to Candor in order to be helped. People who are having marital problems or aren't able to give up smoking on their own. It all sounds like it could be a good idea, right?

Until we found out what happens to people who leave, or to people who try to resist the messages... Oscar is aware of all of this, but tries to play both sides. Go along with some messages, pretend to be his father's perfect son, but also use his knowledge and position in order to get some teenagers out. For a price, naturally. How far will Oscar go to protect someone he cares about, especially if it means standing up to his father?

I did enjoy certain aspects of the novel. It looks at the importance of art and highlights the power of the mind. There's a lot about control and this overbearing adult figure. The meaning of perfection. Despite not connecting well with Oscar, the last quarter of the novel is suprisingly heartbreaking.

This has been read as part of Presenting Lenore's Dystopian August!


  1. I cannot tell you how much the cover creeps me out. I avoid it when I'm in Waterstones :P. The concept does intrigue me though - not sure about the heartbreaking ending however, if I'm honest. I've always been a sucker for happily ever afters :p. Nice review, I will contemplate overlooking the cover and may actually pick it up the next time I'm in a shop!

  2. Great review, I really quite like the sound of this!

  3. I had slightly mixed feelings about this one. Loved the concept but fell short in some areas and the cover freaked me out!! xx

  4. Hopefully the American cover hasn't got a wasp on it...I am such a sissy with large insects. I want to read Candor, especially now that I know the end is sad. I am in such a good mood lately that I need to read some sad-ending books while I can. :)

  5. I think I must have enjoyed this more than you. I really did connect with Oscar. I found him very convincing as a teenage boy. You cannot fault the concept. You're right it is creepy but it is also genius. Interesting thoughts!

  6. Liz R - I know. Lots of people afraid of the wasp, but I quite like it.

    Lucie - It's got an interesting concept :)

    Lyndsey - I felt much the same. Except I adore the cover!

    Jenny - yeah, I think the American cover has a boy with a pair of headphones on it. It screams 'boring' to me :)

    Becky - I love how different readers take different things from reading the same book!


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