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!