Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Release Date: 9/22/09
About the Book: Candor, FL is the perfect town. Teens obey their parents, no one has any problems, and the town is so safe, you can leave your doors unlocked at night. Oscar Banks knows the secrets to Candor-his father is brainwashing everyone with subliminal messages. For a fee, Oscar can help you overcome the brainwashing and escape. When Nia moves to Candor, Oscar is immediately drawn to her. Now he has to decide-help her escape to save her or let her change so she can stay with him?
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: This was one of the books the Egmont booth talked up to me at ALA. The premise sounded promising and this book kept begging me to pick it up and read it. So I finally gave in and pushed this one to the top of my TBR pile. (Maybe the book includes some Messages hidden inside?)
Candor is delightfully creepy-what if adults really could control teens? I love the fact that the author got the idea for the novel while living in Disney's planned community, Celebration, FL. This added to the eeriness for me. Be sure to check out the website the author has set up to go along with the novel-it even includes testimonials from Candor citizens. I loved it and thought it made the whole book have a realistic feel to it.
In some ways Candor reminded me of The Giver meets The Stepford Wives. The teens of Candor (and the adults to some extent) are fed Messages through music. The technical aspects aren't explored too much, but that's OK, because I didn't need to get bogged down in the science part of how the brainwashing worked. The Messages range from being healthy, "healthy bodies make strong minds" (fat free-yogurt and carrots are considered snacks in Candor) to advice on relationships, "respectful space in every place" to ensure no hand holding or kissing.
Like I said, this one had a bit of a creep factor to it because you have to wonder what would happen if someone really could brainwash a town. Would you take the risks to be happy? Oscar's father started Candor to forget his older son's sudden passing. Because of this, he's a sympathetic bad guy and makes him a very interesting character. I'd love to get into his mind and know more about what he thinks about Candor and his reasons behind it (other than the reasons we assume thanks to Oscar).
The supporting characters are great. Pam Bachorz does a great job making you care about them. I was frustrated with Sherman, but also sympathetic. And Mandi-I think there's something more to her story-I would go back and forth between liking her, feeling sorry for her and then finding her completely annoying.
Candor is very much a sci-fi novel for people who don't like sci-fi. It's a fast-paced read and it's a hard one to put down. The story is addicting and you have to keep reading to find out what will happen to Nia and Oscar. The ending is such a shock that you'll be thinking of it long after you finish the last page.
The only thing I didn't like was I was expecting a more engaging romance. It seemed like Oscar fell for Nia right away, with no real basis and their relationship moved rather quickly-they said "love" really fast that it felt somewhat fake to me, but then again, I'm not a teen. But I was still rooting for them, no matter how fast their teen love happened!
This is one to watch for in 2009. Here's hoping Ms. Bachorz writes more about Candor-I'd eagerly pick up more about this "perfect" town!
Full Disclosure: ARC recieved from publisher at ALA