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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Candor by Pam Bachorz

Oscar Banks has everything under control. In a town where his father brainwashes everyone, he's found a way to secretly fight the subliminal Messages. He's got them all fooled: Oscar's the top student and the best-behaved teen in town. Nobody knows he's made his own Messages to deprogram his brain. Oscar has even found a way to get rich. For a hefty price, he helps new kids escape Candor, Florida before they're transformed into cookie-cutter teens. But then Nia Silva moves to Candor, and Oscar's carefully-controlled world crumbles.

The premise of this story is rather unique. The idea of a town devoted to mass brainwashing is both frightening and intriguing. I especially liked how Bachorz made the town focused on fixing problems teens. It not only provided the perfect business for Oscar, but it also created some rather interesting characters – both before and after the Messages took hold.

For me, the best part of the novel was the family dynamics between Oscar and his father – the way that their family operated and the history behind Candor. It was rather ironic that the son of Candor’s founder was working to undo all that he had built. However, there were still a few flaws that retracted from what would’ve otherwise been a wonderful book.

It was an impossible situation that Oscar, Nia and the other Candor teens were placed in. And while I recognize that, I cannot help but feel a bit unsatisfied with how things turned out. The majority of the characters were static and remained that way throughout the book. I would’ve liked to see some change in them. Oscar’s father, for example was one character that I would’ve appreciated to see some crack, some measly flaw in. However, he remained the same throughout the entire course of the book. Yes, they’re brainwashed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are immune to all human emotion and change, as highlighted by Oscar and Nia.

The ending was also a bit of a let down. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll be concise. I didn’t feel like anything had changed. Oscar’s choices still seemed as selfish as they were at the start and the story just seemed to flop close, nothing resolved, nothing changed, just an ending. For the first book in a series, it would be okay. But for a single book it was a disappointment.

Even with all of these minor problems, it’s undeniable that I enjoyed Candor. I wouldn’t say that these things were necessarily bad, but they definitely left me disappointed at the end. I enjoyed the book, I found the town of Candor interesting and Oscar’s voice and adventures were a great read. I just would’ve liked to see a bit more of an impact on the characters.

If you’re looking for a fun, quick read this is a great choice for both guys and girls. It may not blow you away, but it’ll keep you interested and smiling all the way through.

3.5 Stars

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