Candor is described as a YA psychological thriller and was inspired by author Pam Bachorz time spent in a real life model town in Florida.
Our main character is teen Oscar Banks who has spent years working on counter-messages to keep those that are played around Candor from entering his own mind whilst also running a secret business helping other teens to escape before it’s too late (in exchange for a substantial amount of money!). In order to keep his secret and ensure his father continues to believe he is the perfect son Oscar pretends to be just that and so far the whole town has fallen for his act. Overall Oscar is a relatively likeable character despite some of his comments and I think he is a pretty perfect protagonist for this story in particular. Very early on in the book we are also introduced to Nia, a new resident of Candor who quickly becomes an important part of Oscar’s story when shortly after meeting they defy the messages “Keep Candor Beautiful” and “Vandalism is wrong. Never deface someone else’s property” by spray painting graffiti on the otherwise perfect streets. Nia is your typical rebellious teen with a sketchy past which in true YA style catches Oscar’s attention. Of course Oscar’s father is also an important character within the book; mayor of Candor and creator of the message system that controls its’ residents, although not the main focus of the story he is a dark and intriguing presence throughout.
The beginning of the book was fairly interesting with quite a lot of questions being raised about the unusual town of Candor and it’s residents. When I was approaching the halfway point of the book I began to wonder just where the story was going, nothing dramatic or shocking had happened so far and I was starting to question when the ‘deeply chilling’ story promised by the book cover was going to kick in. Towards the end of the story some parts felt quite rushed and for me this did slightly unbalance the book overall. The final chapter, although predictable, is somehow captivating at the same time and definitely leaves you wanting to find out what happened next.
I found the Stepford-esque town of Candor an interesting place to explore and overall it was a good read. Despite there being no particularly surprising events and some elements feeling rather unbelievable, even for such a town, I found the subjects of surveillance and in particular brainwashing interesting and a nice variation from the other dystopian settings that are currently popular in YA.
If you are interested in Candor there is a real website for the fictional town complete with resident interviews and property listings which you can find here. Pam Bachorz’ website also has links to a podcast series spoken from the point of view of Oscar’s father and mayor of Candor, Campbell Banks.
This post was written by regular reviewer Erin, get to know her here.
P.S - From myself and all of us here at Blogger's Bookshelf, we hope you are enjoying the holidays!