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Friday, August 7, 2009

Book Review: Candor by Pam Bachorz

Oscar Banks knows something he should not know. His father, the founder of the painstakingly perfect town of Candor, is manipulating everyone through cleverly crafted subliminal messages. Presumably only parents know what is going on, and they will pay big money to get a plot in Candor if it means transforming a troubled child into a straight-A model student. Any problem can easily be rectified with the repetition of subliminal messaging such as - “Never lie to your parents”, “Studying is your top priority”, “Candy is unhealthy” or my personal favorite -“Respectful space in every place!”

The premise of Candor is that no matter how strong you may think you are, your subconscious is processing incoming messages, and when manipulated just the right way, it will obey. The worst part is that you have no idea you are being controlled. Forget having your own personality, hobbies, or tastes. Forget ever doing anything the least bit fun or adventurous. Makes you cringe to think about right? Well, just imagine finding out it was your control freak father who was masterminding this whole nightmare!

You’re probably thinking, “Well, just stop listening to them” or “Get out of town and never come back”, right? Let’s just say, that those who have tried to stop listening have met with some very, very, unpleasant side effects. So, if you’re Oscar Banks, what do you do? Well, you can’t call the nearest news station or the police. Dear old Dad pays off everyone with his bribes. Besides, if he found out that it was you, you'd be given a power brainwash faster than you can say “Always obey your parents”! In order to survive, Oscar must maintain the perfect facade of a straight laced Candor prodigy. Unbeknownst to his father, Oscar also helps teenagers slip out of Candor without being caught or any worse for the wear, but his services aren't cheap. It’s a profitable side business, and one that Oscar employs to fund his own eventual departure from Candor. That is until Nia, an artistic free spirit moves into town and turns his world upside down. Oscar can't bear the thought of Nia becoming just another brainwashed Candor automaton. But he must decide just how far he's will to risk his own safety in order to help Nia. It's only a matter of time before everyone gives in to the messages.

Candor is a brilliantly written, gripping novel. From page one, I was completely taken in by the believable teenage voice of Oscar, and Bachorz completely kept me on my toes with the plot line. I kept wondering “will Oscar leave?” and just when I thought I had it all figured out, some totally unexpected twist would occur, leaving me floored. The fact that Oscar was a bad boy masquerading as a secret goody-goody added a welcome dose of humor to the novel as well. As for Oscar’s dad, I truly despised him. Yet, Bachorz does such a great job explaining character motivations that I could understand why he was driven to create his idea of a “perfect world", even though I would never condone it.

Bottom Line- Candor is an exciting debut novel and dystopian sci-fi success! The development of the relationship between Oscar, with his quiet rebellious nature and the dark, fiery Nia was beautifully crafted and fast paced. I loved how Oscar struggled with the messages, despite all his measures to counteract their influence. I could really imagine how difficult it would be to constantly try and stay strong against their influence and what it would be like to just give in now and again—

“Sometimes it’s nice to do what the messages say. It’s like sinking into a warm bath, eyes shut, arms floating, and letting the water cover my face. I don’t have to breathe until someone tells me to.” (ARC, Page 51)

I have to add that the ending of Candor left me thirsting for a sequel, and I hope fans of Bachorz can look forward to another installment in the future!

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 256 Pages
Publisher: Egmont USA (September 22, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1606840126
ISBN-13: 978-1606840122
Buy at: Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, etc

Pam Bachorz grew up in a small town in the Adirondack foothills, where she participated in every possible performance group and assiduously avoided any threat of athletic activity, unless it involved wearing sequined headpieces and treading water. With a little persuasion she will belt out tunes from "The Music Man" and "The Fantasticks", but she knows better than to play cello in public anymore. Pam attended college in Boston and finally decided she was finished after earning four degrees: a BS in Journalism, a BA in Environmental Science, a Masters in Library Science and an MBA. Her mother is not happy that Pam's degrees are stored under her bed.

Pam, who lived in Florida when she wrote CANDOR, currently lives just outside Washington, DC with her husband and their son. When she's not writing, working or parenting, Pam likes to read books not aimed at her age group, go to museums and theater performances, and watch far too much television. She even goes jogging. Reluctantly.

As far as she knows, Pam has never been brainwashed. Or maybe that's just what she's supposed to say.

Official Website of Pam Bachorz
Read the First Chapter of Candor HERE.
See photos of settings that inspired Candor HERE.


Juju said...

What an interesting concept.

rebrebs said...

This kind of stuff freaks me out, things that almost could be true but you wouldn't know.. sounds like a good premise for a book though, enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.


SusiSunshine said...

this book sounds really interesting.
I’ve got a surprise for you at my Blog
Have a nice weekend,

Korianne said...

Pam is just so stinkin' cute like her bio says! I can't wait to read this one when I get it back from my friend!

Jazz said...

I can't wait to read this book. EgmontUSA seems like they are going to be coming out with exciting titles. I'm so interested in this story being gray rather than black and white.

Casey said...

Great review, and some very interesting points. I think it would freak me out if this were to actually happen...well, if it was I guess we wouldn't really know about it. Anyways I am really looking forward to reading this book.

Limerick said...

Great review! It makes me more excited for the book to come out. The idea of subtle mind control is as sacry as it is cool. It' a pretty powerful ability.
Candor sounds really cool. I'm definitely adding it to my TBR list.


Candor is a great read, I'm glad u liked it too!

Debbie's World of Books said...

Great review! I've been wanting to read this one so bad!

Kate said...

This is definitely a must read for me. Awesome review!