Candor

Candor - Pam Bachorz Pam Bachor's "Candor" takes on a very unique premise in YA literature - as it paints the town of Candor, Florida as a seemingly picture perfect town. For parents of unruly teens, bringing them to Candor ensures that their children will undergo a transformation in which their thoughts and actions are controlled by messages embedded within sound, molding them into model citizens. One could say that this book describes the setting in five apt words: You are what you hear.Oscar, the book's protagonist, already knows about Candor's dark secrets, as his father is the one who conducts the transformations. Yet, he secretly works against his father's ambitions for a profit, at first. He hears the messages pushing him to conduct himself as a model citizen, just like any other teen that comes into town, but he's somehow able to fight the messages, even remember what life was like before coming to Candor, and before his father wanted to control everything. At first, Oscar might seem to be an unlikable, spoiled protagonist, but as the book moves forward, the reader sees a much different side of Oscar, one that makes you see the reason why he's both bitter and restrained in the relationship with his father. This becomes further upended when Nia Silva comes into town. Oscar is fascinated by her carefree, creative nature, not to mention her penchant for breaking the rules. Yet, he's torn in his relationship with Nia because he knows the truth about the town, and he doesn't want Nia to succumb to the messages. Ultimately, the reader's propelled through the story with the question of whether Oscar can warn Nia about the town's deep secrets, without revealing the secrets which he keeps himself."Candor" reeled me in for quite a ride in the first several chapters of the story, and I ewas intrigued with finding out more about the town of Candor and Oscar's backstory, even in points where his bravado was rather high. I liked him more as the story went forward when I learned about his family history, and I liked his growing relationship with Nia. There were refreshing bits of tension that came with Oscar's seemingly posed relationship with girlfriend Mandy, and best friend/adversarial relationship with Sherman. However, it takes some time getting to the novel's turning point, which I think some may see coming before it hits. What happens after that, however, surprised me with how engaging it was. Oscar's desperation to fight his father's efforts becomes something that I think readers will appreciate, even if there are some points where one has to suspend disbelief. The ending I'll admit I didn't see coming. I thought it was intriguing considering it could've ended in a standard way, but instead took a turn that was both plausible and surprising.The major criticism I had of "Candor" as an overall story was that I think on several points in the novel, I don't think it goes as far with its themes and setting as it could've. The premise is intriguing, the tension real, but it's done at such a distance that I don't think it grips as hard as it potentially could have - the emotional and moral depth could've been much greater. Still, that didn't stop me from enjoying what the novel had to offer, and it's a quick read that left me satisfied when I considered the whole of the work.I would recommend this for YA dystopic lovers to read at least once, as it's a quick read and enjoyable for what it offers, even with its caveats.Overall score: 3.5/5