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Friday, 13 August 2010

Review: Candor

Author: Pam Bachorz

Release date: 2nd August 2010 UK
Genre: Dystopia/ Psychological Thriller
Target audience: 12+

Summary from Amazon:
My name is Oscar and I am the perfect teenager. My girlfriend is the hottest girl in school. I get straight As. I am class president. But there is a terrible reason I am so perfect: the Messages. Oscar Banks lives in the pristine town of Candor. Son of the mayor, he is good-looking, smart and popular. And he knows something he's not supposed to - he knows about the brainwashing Messages embedded in the music that plays all over the town. But Oscar has found a way to burn counter-Messages that keep him real. Up to now, it's all worked perfectly. There's just one problem: Nia Silva, the newest Candor arrival. What will Oscar risk to keep the Nia he loves rather than watch her become a Candor automaton? Deeply chilling, "Candor" is a psychological thriller that will haunt readers with its vision of a world controlled by something worse than Big Brother.

Candor is a chilling story about mind control. Oscar Banks is the perfect teenage boy. He lives in Candor and is everything a Candor boy should be. His Dad is the town’s creator and has made his dream of a safe, crime-free, orderly place to live come true. You could say that it is a big conspiracy by the parents to control their children into becoming “moral, obedient” citizens but they too are being controlled. The only difference is that the parents choose to be controlled. The children are changed beyond recognition without their consent.

How is this achieved? Through subliminal messages. What an idea! It couldn’t be any more cool if it tried. I love the concept for this book.

The Messages are hidden in music. The music is so low that the brain doesn’t really register that it is hearing it. The Messages are absorbed by the subconscious mind and communicate certain rules to live by. This could be something as innocent as “Never litter. Keep Candor beautiful”. Or it could be something much more sinister. Either way the freedoms of the children are removed and so they do not do all the things that are what we perceive to be normal teenage behaviours.

Why do parents take their children to Candor? They want them to have successful lives. They might want to stop their child becoming obese, using drugs, becoming a criminal. They have the best of intentions.

This novel explores questions of morality, of civil liberties and of parental relationships. It is quite fascinating. I should tell you more about Oscar. He appears to be Candor-fied through and through but actually it is all an act. He knows about the Messages and is creating his own. He orders himself to remember the Messages and to stay independent in his thoughts. He helps new Candor children escape for a price. Oscar’s voice is immensely convincing. He thinks exactly as I imagine teenage boys do.

The plot is engrossing and the ending is ummm... well... spot on but I can’t say much more without ruining it for you. For those who love dystopia and novels which raise questions about contemporary society, this one is for you. A creepy novel that will make you shudder all the way through!


Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

This sounds both creepy and brilliant. Usually, these two go hand in hand.;) The idea of subliminal messages that serve to control human minds is very intriguing. It's almost like "A Brave New World" with Huxley, and I loved that book.

I've been promising myself to put a dystopian novel on my wishlist and I'll finally do it, I want to read Candor. Your wonderful review totally convinced me. Thanks for sharing!

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

I loved this! I agree the ending that is spot on, but it still broke my heart and I wanted a different ending for Oscar and Nia.

Lenore said...

I really liked this one - and that the ending didn't take the easy way out.

Splendibird said...

This sounds amazing! I love a bit of dystopia and having just read Matched am really in the mood for something similar - Candor sounds like it would fit the bill perfectly.

Caroline said...

I thought the cover was interesting and now I find the book fascinating... Dystopia is becoming my favourite genre each book a bit more :)
I like the idea of subliminal messages hidden in the music!
I am very intrigued by your comments on Oscar, how exactly is he influencing the other kids to escape "at a price"?... Will have to read the book :)

Becky said...

Irena, I think thinking that I should read Brave New World. Definitely, somethig I should borrow from my library.

Sophie, I get the feeling there could be more to come?

Lenore, I agree. The author didn't compromise and it so worked.

Splendibird, I hear that Matched is amazing. If you like dystopia, then you'll definitely enjoy this.

Caroline, the concept is great, isn't it!

asamum said...

Terrific review. I have had it on my wishlist for a while but now I am bumping it up :D
The whole idea of subliminal messages in music - WOW

Lauren said...

Sounds awesome, and reminds me a little bit of Brave New World with the subliminal messages thing. Thanks for reviewing this one - I figured I'd probably want to read it, but now I can't wait. :D

Nina said...

Sounds like a great read. I actually got this book to review and I'm now more excited to read it. I so like this cover better than the cover with the boy on it. :)


This looks so amazing! And the cover is so wonderful the colours just POP! I wonder what significance it has though, to the actual plot. But this is definitely going on my to read list! Thanks for an awesome review!

brizmus said...

This sounds like the perfect book for me! What a brilliant concept. I find it so rare for books like this to have spot on endings, so I'll defo be checking this out.

I Want To Read That said...

SOunds so good! I'm sure I'll get to reading it eventually - I think I need to train myself to be able to read a different book with each eye. There are so many books I want to read RIGHT NOW!! Anyway - great review:)

cj'alhafiz said...

hahaha! the cover is just so sweet. i didn't expect that it's a psychological thriller. the bee and lollipop is great. the story also brilliant. I have to try this one. =) thanks for sharing...

Becky said...

Emma, hope it gets to the top of your list soon.

Lauren, 100% your kind of thing! You'll love it.

Nina, I much prefer this cover too. The US one really put me off. This one is attractive yet dangerous.

Paper Back Novel, the cover doesn't have any direct reference to what happens in the story but it is a metaphor for it. And the tag line makes it make sense.

Brizmus, I love it when author's don't compromise on the ending too.

Sammee, your comment had me chuckling to myself for ages last night. It came through on my email and I was hysterical because now I am really hoping such a useful ability is possible!

CJ, How perceptive! The cover is all about appearances and so is the novel - they are deceptive and that my wonderful commentators, is the point.

Thanks everyone for your mucho enthusiasm for this book.

Jess said...

I've been eyeing off Candor for a while now but you have totally talked me into buy it :D

I have awarded you the Versatile Blogger award which I am sure you have had many times but I've just discovered your blog and I really like it.

Jess said...

Oops you can collect it here:


Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Awesome review.
I simply must look in to this one.

Christina/Book Addict said...

Wow! This sounds incredible. Great review! I need to get my hands on this one. Subliminal messages? What a unique premise!

Clover said...

It was quite cool, this book. I'm still trying to work out what went wrong with me and this book.