Sunday, 26 September 2010

Candor by Pam Bachorz

Aug 2010 (paperback release), Egmont
287, paperback
Review copy

YA - psychological thriller/dystopian
Sexual references, lots of kissing, disturbing mind-altering content ;)

Summary from Egmont:
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.

Amy's thoughts:
Pam Bachorz's impressive debut is a nail-biting ride from start to finish. Plot twists keep you guessing, and the ending leaves you mourning and rejoicing at the same time. This story has a truly bittersweet conclusion.

Oscar lives in a world ruled by his father - and the Messages. But that's not a problem; he has a perfect reputation and no one in the world would suspect him of doing what he does: freeing teens from the magic utopia of Candor, a utopia magical enough to erase even the hardest teen's personality, and mould them into a perfect A+ model of decorum. All is well until Nia appears - and she's unlike any other girl he's ever met. She's perfect, too - but his perfect, not Candor-perfect.

Until the messages start getting to her.

He can feed her his own messages, of course - but what if he doesn't really want her to leave? Can he help her stay and fight the messages, just like him? And when she find out he's been brainwashing her too, will she want to stay with him?

*shake head in awe* This is a beautifully, subtlely rendered book that captures so exactly what brainwashing is like, it's scary. It's like a modern reincarnation of 1984, one of my favourite classic novels, only written for teenagers - and the ending, while remniscent of 1984, does have more hope and sweetness than 1984's somewhat bleak conclusion. Though I still despise Oscar's father, even if a tiny part of me does feel sorry for him.

Oscar isn't a wholly likeable person himself, but in a way that's why the story works. We live in his head, seeing through his eyes, and even while we recognise that what he's doing isn't perhaps the nicest thing to do, we at least understand why he's doing it. And he does grow and change, which is a Big Thing for me. You may have picked by now that it's the characters that really does it for me in a novel - well round characters that have genuine minds of their own, and that react and respond to their conflicts by growing. Oscar is all that and more, and as he struggles with his own selfish desires and the needs of other people, he grows and develops and matures into the very person I knew he could be, and hoped he would become.

Yes, I'm being a little vague. I refuse to spoil the ending for you ;) But this is an excellent, if chilling read, and I highly recommend it.

Final conclusion:
1984 set in the current era, for teens; only with a much sweeter ending ;) :D An excellent, gripping read.

To find out more about this fantastic book, head to or watch the book trailer. To find out about the author, visit (where you can also read chapter one).


Krispy said...

I keep meaning to check out this book, but then I'll forget about it. Every time I hear someone talk about it though, the more I want to read it. Putting it on my list now so I don't forget. Thanks for this review!!!

Blueicegal ♥ said...

i need to read this asap great review!

Amy Laurens said...

Krispy One - Yes, do read it! It really is great. The MC is so refreshingly /male/, it's wonderful.

Blueicegal - Absolutely read it! Glad you liked the review :o)