Candor - Pam Bachorz

The Message pounds in my head: The great are never late. The great are never late. It's a tough one to fight: It plays every day. Everywhere. One of Dad's classics.

I remember hearing about Candor a while ago and thought it sounded great. Based on the author's six-year stint in Celebration, Florida, it's about a model community where everyone is brainwashed into being perfect citizens. The adults moving there know what will happen to them: they'll quit smoking, lose weight, and be happily married. But their kids don't. They don't know why they're suddenly eager to study and happy to munch on carrots and celery sticks at the movie theater (which only plays G-rated movies). And they don't care, either, because they don't remember.

But Oscar Banks, son of the town's founder (and chief brainwasher), has a secret. He discovered his father's secret and learned to program his own counter-messages into his music. He plays the part of the perfect son, but secretly he runs his own counter-programming and helps kids escape Candor for a hefty fee.

That in itself is an interesting premise, but of course we need a little additional conflict and tension, right? Enter Nia, a new girl who is decidedly imperfect and seems to be the only one not impressed by Oscar's good-kid front. Oscar doesn't want Nia to change, but he also doesn't want her to leave, which present an interesting dilemma.

Candor is sort of a young adult Stepford: everything looks perfect on the surface, but it's not real. Oscar's dad can easily shift the tone of the entire town by changing the messages when necessary, making people forget anything unpleasant or even erasing the entire memory of somebody who left. It has shades of "The Truman Show" and 1984 as well.

I liked the story, even if it wasn't entirely unpredictable throughout. There were a few surprises here and there and you didn't know exactly what would happen, but you can sort of see a lot of it coming. My main complaint, really, is that Oscar doesn't talk (or think) like a teenage boy. Ok, yes, he helps kids for a fee and not out of the kindness of his heart. But the way he talks about Nia just doesn't seem real. I mean, it makes for a more interesting read, I'm sure, but it doesn't always feel in character.

For fans of dystopian futures, Candor is worth checking out.

Fed to jonathan's brain | October 06, 2010 | Comments (0)


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