Review – Candor by Pam Bachorz

Today we hear from new Bookbabbler Lyndsey..

Candor – Pam Bachorz

Oscar Banks is the perfect teenager. Son of the town‘s founder, most popular guy in school and he has the hottest girl in school as a girlfriend. Everyone either wants to know Oscar and be his friend or they want to be him. The thing is, his perfection is only for show. Oscar knows that there is an evil secret behind the town of Candor and one that rules it.

Everyone in Candor is rules by subliminal Messages that are given through the music being played into the town. Oscar is the exception to the rule though as he has figured out a way to counteract the Messages and be able to think for himself. Oscar has his own way of protecting newcomers and getting them out before their minds are no longer their own but then Nia Silva arrives.

Nia is the one girl that Oscar never wants to see changed into the usual Candor resident but helping her means risking exposing himself and what he can do. Will he be able to save Nia as well as keeping himself safe at the same time?

From the moment I heard about this book, I wanted to read it immediately. The I saw the cover. I have never been so put off by a book just because of its cover but this one really made me thing twice about how much I wanted to read it. The UK cover is white with a big orange lollipop with a wasp stuck to it. I am terrified of wasps so having a book taunt me was not something I was looking forward to. However, I did sit the book on my desk for a couple of days before reading it and soon got used to the cover and it ended up not being scary to look at after a while.

Candor is written in the first person, from Oscar’s point of view and it worked very well for me. Having Oscar give a run down of what is happening in Candor and how the town works really drew me into the story and made me believe that Candor really wasn’t the nicest place to live. Oscar is quite a realistic teenager considering that his Dad is a bit more than crazy and the whole town is being brainwashed. I found his dialogue to be witty and clever most of the time but there were others where I thought he was a little more whiney than I had expected. The thing about Oscar is that he isn’t perfect, he is far from it. Bachorz isn’t afraid to show his flaws and they proved how real he is, making me like him even more.

Each of the supporting characters are all also interesting in their own ways. Sherman is desperate to get out of Candor and seems willing to do just about anything for Oscar to get his wish. His desperation is so funny that it made me laugh out loud. Mandy, Oscar’s girlfriend is the perfect picture of what a girl should be in Candor but what was she like before her family moved to Candor?

Then there is Nia, the new girl in town. I loved that I got to learn so much about the real her due to not being taken in by the town’s Messages. Nia enjoys doing a lot of the things that are now banned in Candor, because everyone thinks they’re evil. Her personality was so exciting and fresh compared to the other robotic residents. She was certainly determined to be her own person and not do what anyone else told her to. She was rebellious, loud and funny.

The relationship between Oscar and Nia was beautifully written for the most part although there was one small part that I had a problem with. Things developed quicker than I would have liked but I can overlook that as the rest was so good. Nothing is easy for them to begin with as Nia doesn’t want anything to do with Oscar and I loved that. She wasn’t going to pay attention to him just because he was the most popular guy in school. The way that their relationship developed stayed true to how I had imagined it would do instead of being a fluffy, happy all round relationship.

The background of the town, once revealed, was a very interesting one. There are small hints throughout the story as to why Oscar’s Dad created such a town but I was never really sure until it was clearly stated. Bachorz has created a world that although quite complex in certain ways, is still easy to understand. She really thought of every little detail and that is why Candor (the town) was so perfect.

The idea behind controlling members of the community with subliminal messages has been done before (e.g. Stepford Wives) but Candor puts a new and exciting twist on it. Something that really got me thinking was the what perfect would mean to me. Oscar’s Dad created a town that is his idea of perfect with perfect people but what would it have been like if that was me? I don’t think I would have any idea where to begin even if it was possible. More interesting than the idea itself is that there is one person who has been able to go against the mind control. Oscar isn’t completely immune to the Messages though, he has to work extremely hard to make sure they don’t take over his mind. The fact that it wasn’t easy for him to be his own person was something that added realism to his character.

Candor kept me guessing throughout and I could never really tell what was going to happen at the end. Twists and turns are thrown in all over the place to keep readers guessing. Candor is a fast paced story that will grip you from the very beginning right until the end. There were so many ways that this story could have gone but I was very pleased with how things ended. That’s not to say it ends how you will expect it to though.

I would love for there to be a sequel so that I can find out what happens to Oscar, Nia and the rest of the town. Candor is a completely thrilling book that will have you thinking for days after finishing it!

Thanks, Lyndsey – great review and glad you enjoyed it! Thanks to Egmont for sending us a copy.