Candor by Pam Bachorz
Just finished reading Candor by Pam Bachorz.
Candor is the name of a town in Florida where everybody lives perfect lives. There are no raised voices, no graffiti, everybody is polite, the children study hard, they do chores for their parents. Does it sound too good to be true or does it sound a little bit too perfect, too plastic and shiny?
The thing is with Candor – which is a fairly interesting name to have chosen for a place when candor is really not the name of the game – everything is far from what it seems. The whole town is run by one man, and he really is a man on a mission. The underlying tone is really quite sinister – everyone is in fact being brainwashed. Well, everyone except Oscar. Oscar is the main protagonist and the son of the town’s founder. His mum left a long time ago and his brother died in a tragic swimming accident. Oscar has found a way to not become a slave to the constant messages that are fed to the residents through subliminal messages playing within music that is fed out all over town. Not only is Oscar managing to hold his own but he’s also trying to make himself a little cash by helping new kids to escape the town before they lose their identify (for a hefty fee of course). This is a pretty dangerous game to play given that if his father finds out he will be in deep touble – he’ll be taken to the ‘listening room’ where is brain will receive so many subliminal messages that it may well be scrambled permanently.
I think this is a great concept for a book. And this book is is very readable and intriguing. However, I liked it, not loved it. I think to a certain extent the characters don’t help you to love the book. Oscar definitely has his moments where he is not exactly likable (to say the least). He is manipulative, he doesn’t give Nia much of a choice in the actions he takes and look at the outcome! He does redeem himself a little towards the end but he just seems to compound one mistake with another in a quite annoying fashion. On top of that the other characters are, obviously as they’re brainwashed, very flat.
The other thing for me was the fact that throughout I couldn’t help thinking about Stepford Wives and The Body Snatchers – however, I don’t mean that to be too critical – if you look at the target audience they probably wouldn’t make the same comparison after all. And, finally, I think I wanted the book to have a much more sinister feel, I wanted to feel tense whenever Oscar’s father questioned him, I wanted to feel his fear and emotion and I wanted to feel the tension he felt by living in such constant danger of being caught.
But, all that being said, I didn’t really want to be overly critical. This is a good story, it’s quick to read and it has a twisted ending which came as a surprise. Quite bitter sweet.
I would recommend this book – especially if you want a quick read, not too challenging but with a good theme.