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Candor by Pam Bachorz

CandorThe town of Candor, Florida is absolutely perfect, as are its residents. Here, teens enjoy doing homework and following the rules, and Oscar, the son of the town’s founder, is their poster boy—on the outside at least. What the people in charge, particularly Oscar’s father, don’t know, is that Oscar is in on their secret. Normal teens don’t enjoy doing homework or follow all the rules, but in Candor, they are basically forced to by subliminal messages hidden in the music that play throughout town. So Oscar secretly fights back against the mind control, using the model Candor citizen as his cover, and for the right price, he even helps new kids get out. Everything changes when Nia moves to town. For the first time in a long while, Oscar cares about someone almost more than he does about himself. But he’s torn, because letting Nia stay would increase the odds of getting caught and imminent brainwashing for the both of them, but saving Nia and helping her escape would mean losing her forever.

Bachorz makes huge waves with her chilling debut young adult novel that takes The Stepford Wives to the next level. It brings what you thought was only possible in the dystopian future to the present. The town of Candor is every independent and free thinking adolescent’s worst nightmare, where conformity is law, individual identity is discouraged, and the mind is no longer the safe haven for private thoughts since your thoughts and the one the Messages want you to think are indistinguishable. I can see the appeal to the adult generation that’s already in the know about the Messages: Candor is a utopia where everyone gets along, nothing goes wrong, et cetera. It’s the perfect answer to the parents who can’t handle their out-of-control kids and/or their own lives. But really, all Candor is, is a sick, delusional dream of a grieving man turned nightmare, a place where people go to get brainwashed into thinking they’re happy, and not even their own idea of happy at that! It’s just a horrible and mentally unhealthy atmosphere and part of what makes Candor such a fascinating read. It also helps that the setting and story are scarily realistic even if the mechanics of the subliminal messaging sounded somewhat sketchy to me. Candor is really an important read for teens, so they can appreciate free will and that they aren’t slaves to their parents’ mind control, but also, I would love to see the parents reading this; this story and its heartbreaking ending might give some of the more difficult ones some perspective.

Candor should be read by all teens and adults because of the moral and ethical boundaries it challenges. This novel will be enjoyed by fans of The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson, and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I greatly look forward to more fantastic writing from Bachorz.

Rating: 4.5

Review copy from publisher EgmontUSA

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