Author: Pam Bachorz
Publisher: Egmont USA
Plot Summary: Oscar Banks, son of the town founder, lives in a perfect house, in the perfect town of Candor, Florida. A closed community segregated by money, Candor's population are, as a whole, kind, generous, and hardworking individuals. There is no crime, no vandalism, no violence. The dark side of Candor's utopia is that it is all controlled, every individual's actions are turned to that of a model citizen via the music piped all through the town, and the subliminal messages that it carries. Oscar is the epitome of a model citizen: all the kids at school look up to him, ask him to join their clubs, sign their petitions, but underneath, Oscar is the only person who can think for himself through resisting the Messages. Enter the newest addition to Candor: Nia, a skater girl who refuses to wear the pastels and polos of the town, who steals a can of orange spray-paint to add some color to the sidewalks. Oscar immediately becomes enthralled by this girl who resists the Messages and he begins risking his public persona to be with her.
Critical Evaluation: Candor is an intriguing novel reminiscent of utopia novels such as Brave New World, in which people live without fear or lacking basic needs, but without the freedom to do as they will. The first person narration from the view of Oscar Banks is the only logical choice, unless the story were to be told from Nia's point of view. Seeing her slowly change throughout the book would have been intriguing, but in comparison, seeing the last person "alive" go through the motions of being the best citizen in town is also interesting. Through the first person point of view of Oscar, Candor shows how he resists the Messages and how, at times, he picks another battle to fight and allows the Message to come out. This is quite similar to when people pick their own fights in real life, whether to complain about something small or an overarching problem in the system, and could be analyzed and treated as such. The theme of brainwashing is reoccurring but connecting it to music is a way to make Candor modern and applicable to modern readers.
Reader's Annotation: In Candor, everyone is a model citizen due to subliminal messages transmitted through music. In Candor, only Oscar Banks, the son of the town founder and epitome of perfection, can think for himself.
Information About the Author: Pam Bachorz grew up in the Adirondack foothills. While growing up, she participated in as many performance groups as possible before going to college and earning FOUR degrees (a BS in Journalism, a BA in Environmental Science, a Masters in Library Science, and a MBA)!
Bachorz's writing draws upon her own experiences, with Candor influenced by her stint in a planned community. Read more about the author at her website.
Genre: Science Fiction; Suburban; Brainwashing
Curriculum Ties N/A
- In the small town of Candor, everyone is a model citizen. All the teens dress neatly, do their homework, help around the house, and believe in sex after marriage. But behind this clean-cut vision of Americana lurks the ominous use of subliminal messages that snare inhabitants through the ever-constant background music, telling them to be good, productive, and caring individuals. In this controlled utopia, only the town founder's son, Oscar, is free to think as he likes. But he too, has a facade of perfection that he must perfect in order to avoid the Thinking Room, where all his thoughts would be wiped clean.
Reading Level: 15+
Challenge Issues N/A
Why This Book?: YALSA 2011 Popular Paperback
Bachorz, P. (2009) Candor. New York: Egmont USA.