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In the model community of Candor, Florida, every teen wants to be like Oscar Banks. The son of the town’s founder, Oscar earns straight As, is student-body president, and is in demand for every club and cause.

But Oscar has a secret. He knows that parents bring their teens to Candor to make them respectful, compliant—perfect—through subliminal Messages that carefully correct and control their behavior. And Oscar’s built a business sabotaging his father’s scheme with Messages of his own, getting his clients out before they’re turned. After all, who would ever suspect the perfect Oscar Banks?

Then he meets Nia, the girl he can’t stand to see changed. Saving Nia means losing her forever. Keeping her in Candor, Oscar risks exposure . . . and more.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published September 1, 2009

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About the author

Pam Bachorz

4 books246 followers
Pam Bachorz grew up in a small town in the Adirondack foothills, where she participated in every possible performance group and assiduously avoided any threat of athletic activity, unless it involved wearing sequined headpieces and treading water. With a little persuasion she will belt out tunes from "The Music Man" and "The Fantasticks", but she knows better than to play cello in public anymore. Pam attended college in Boston and finally decided she was finished after earning four degrees: a BS in Journalism, a BA in Environmental Science, a Masters in Library Science and an MBA. Her mother is not happy that Pam's degrees are stored under her bed.

Pam, who lived in Florida when she wrote CANDOR, currently lives just outside Washington, DC with her husband and their son. When she's not writing, working or parenting, Pam likes to read books not aimed at her age group, go to museums and theater performances, and watch far too much television. She even goes jogging. Reluctantly.

As far as she knows, Pam has never been brainwashed. Or maybe that's just what she's supposed to say.

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5 stars
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3 stars
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223 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 900 reviews
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,462 reviews8,569 followers
December 28, 2010
"Candor" is about Oscar Banks, the model son who lives in the model town of Candor, Florida. He is perfect in every way - he gets perfect grades, is the perfect boyfriend, and is the epitome of what every child in Candor should be. However, this alibi is just a cover. Oscar knows the big secret of Candor - that his father, the head of the town, is brainwashing everyone with subliminal messages in order to keep them perfectly orderly and rule-abiding. Oscar has even made a counter - business in order to smuggle the rich kids out of Candor, and get them back to regular society. But what happens when Nia, a strong-headed, rebellious girl comes to Candor and challenges Oscar with the question: should he save the girl and let her return to a normal life, or save her for himself and keep her close with him? Regardless, his decision changes his life already abnormal life forever.

This book was a refreshing experience. The writing was simple and easy to follow, which made the complicated premise easy to understand. I liked all of the characters - at first I didn't like Oscar too much (hello, even his name is sorta unappealing). I came to like him after about fifty pages though. Candor provided an interesting take on something most people don't read about too often: brainwashing, which was actually pretty cool, in a strange, creepy way. Another thing I like about this book is that I know most teenage guys my age who don't read as much would probably pick this book up, it has a cool cover, easy writing, and an interesting plot.

There were only a few points in the novel where I wanted to give the book 4.5 stars. The plot could have been developed more, like what happens to the kids that escape Candor. Also, I think the whole "perfect image" thing Oscar had going on for him let him get away with a couple of his pranks a little too easily - but, I digress. It was a really good book and I'm HOPING for a sequel, especially with the ending... *shiver*

*EDIT: I'm now giving the book four stars. For the reasons listed above. Also, I compared Candor to some of the other books I've given five stars to and I realized although it was really good, it was more of a 4.5... but not a 5. Maybe with a sequel the story will get a five. We'll just have to wait and see.

Want to read more of my reviews? Follow me here: http://thomasle18.wordpress.com/
Profile Image for Stephanie (Stepping Out Of The Page).
465 reviews221 followers
August 9, 2011
I'd been looking forward to reading this book but I can't say that I loved it all that much. The premise was fantastic, the plot was decent, the execution just wasn't impressive. The writing was simple and pretty easy to follow. The protagonist, Oscar, wasn't complex enough and very uninteresting - I just couldn't connect with him. His relationships were unbelievable too and not just because he was living in Candor. The only character I could feel anything for was Nia, and that was only slight. Perhaps my problem with the connection with the other characters was because they were meant to be brainwashed but I can't enjoy a story without connecting with or liking any of the characters. I think a lot of this story could've been elaborated upon - with more structure and deeper detail, Candor could've been a much more exciting novel. This wasn't bad as such but it was all a bit too 'basic'. The ideas are there for a fantastic 'dystopian' city, but it just didn't quite work out.
Profile Image for Megan.
418 reviews385 followers
March 22, 2011
Candor is a YA novel in the spirit of The Stepford Wives. Author Pam Bachorz invented a town where parents of delinquent, bullying or just plan slacker kids can turn to for subliminal Messages to improve the kid’s behavior, appearance, and grade point average. The Messages don’t just work on kids, though. Oscar’s dad (the town founder) promises to help parents beat their own demons from smoking to motivation to being addicted to Goodreads. *ahem*

Clearly, Oscar’s dad is a hot mess of issues. As is Oscar. Yet Oscar has found a way to beat the Messages and the system and has a fairly lucrative business helping other kids to avoid the brainwashing until skateboarding Nia enters Candor. At this point, the cool psychological speculative books ends and the teen angst begins. Oscar spends so many chapters obsessing over Nia, and like many teen romances there is no clear reason as to why. Oh, I’m quite sure that Bachorz intended to give this couple loads of chemistry, but somehow it didn’t read that way. Oscar came across as a temporarily stupid love struck kid who spends too much time in his own head. Nia as a slightly confused, and not too observant bad girl who latches on to the only non-robot guy she meets.

The premise is pretty cool, and Bachorz’s messy and flawed characters are interesting, but so much of the book is concerned with a flat romance. How do I get it, what do I do now that I have it, how can I fix it when it is gone? Spare me! In addition, as the romance got going, the plot slowed down considerably and the world building was halted. I would have loved to meet more of Candor’s citizens, the people Oscar’s dad works with, Oscar’s relatives. Mostly, I would like to know more about the Messages. The premise here is that anyone can be whoever or whatever they desire through the power of subliminal messages. But there is a nasty side effect of going full on psycho when exposure to subliminal messages is abruptly ended. Huh? Sorry, I saw that tidbit as nothing more than a plot device. We had no explanation for why people go bat shit crazy without a constant stream of subliminal messages hidden in music. But for some reason they do. They also go crazy when they get too many messages. Apparently, brainwashing is an exact science. Even with the angst and the slow moving plot, Candor would have been so much better had this aspect of the Messages been better explained.

So… two stars. This book is enjoyable and brings up a lot of interesting questions, but it is not what it could have been. As it is written, it would be so much more effective had a lot of the middle, slow moving yuck been removed to make Candor into a novella or short story. But as a full length novel, it is lacking. I recommend this for YA fans who need a break from heavier reading and are looking for a quick, light read.
February 26, 2011
First, I cannot say enough about this book, so forgive the Gushing Factor right away or you'll never finish reading this post.

Second, I admit to loving books about a dystopian/utopian, Stepford-esque society. It's a bias. So I'll throw it out there.

Third, wait, you're still with me? Okay, here comes the review part. Pam Bachorz introduces her snarky male protagonist on page one. We meet Oscar Banks. The son of the founder of Candor, FL. He is the Boy Who Can Do No Wrong. And he doesn't. Well, or so it seems especially to all the adults involved including his famous father.

Except in this perfect planned community, where everything from the lawns to your children to your marriage is perfect, Oscar has learned to work against the system. You see in Candor, everyone is conditioned to eat the right food, to study, to not litter, to be perfect through subliminal messages piped in through speakers that are everywhere.

But not Oscar. He's learned how to de-program the messages. And he'll share this finding with any newcomer who has the money to pay him. Generous to a fault. Unfortunately, one day a girl named Nia shows up. A spunky, skateboarding artist who is just like all the other children when they first move to Candor - she's rebellious and never does the right thing. But Oscar really wants to help her. More so than the others and so he does.

What builds from there is a romantic plot filled with twists and turns that leave you elated and heart broken and rooting for Oscar and Nia to make it. As I read along, I kept thinking of some of the great utopian novels I read when I was in school - 1984, Stepford Wives and even Logan's Run.

I was reminded of why even in this day and age, we search for that type of perfection. Why the concept was used a few years ago when Disney created just such a community in Celebration, FL minus the brainwashing, of course.

So the reality of Candor exists even today. We're not far away from the concept. And it's scary. As Bachorz warns through Oscar and his research, there are serious side effects. The homogenization of America is just not what is at the core of the Melting Pot our Founding Fathers envisioned. And yet, in pockets all over America, we seek just that.I won't spoil the ending.

I'll finish by saying that the last 40-50 pages left me literally breathless and when I turned the last page, it all made sense. My hats off to Pam Bachorz for creating truly a masterpiece. I am recommending this for all who love impossible love, seek perfection or run from it, long for a good thrilling plot and most of all one heck of a compassionate, sympathetic male character. Oscar Banks, I'm still cheering for you.

Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.2k followers
July 26, 2016
This was such an interesting and different read! I recommend it to anyone who enjoys dystopian and is looking for something relatable but with a twist! This is a book about a town where one man controls everyone by brainwashing everyone through music. It's the story of his son: a boy living in this brainwashed town but who knows how to fight it and what he does with that knowledge.

Now, I did have some problems with the book. I wish it would have been longer, for starters, because a lot of the important moments felt rushed. The main character felt well developed, but the side characters were sometimes one-dimensional. The ending was a huge cliffhanger, and while it was effective I would have liked to see more. I felt like the main character didn't truly learn the lesson he needed to learn and maybe he could have done so with a little more time! I loved what this story was saying, and I wish it would have been fleshed out more!

That being said, this was a really great and quick read. It was a contemporary-dystopian blend that didn't feel far from possible which made it eerie and relatable. I'm really happy I read this!
Profile Image for Rhi.
361 reviews139 followers
February 5, 2010
I am having trouble rating this book. I hated the ending. Really hated it.
I'm sure Oscar's decision was supposed to be read as courageous and benevolent towards the girl who had captured his heart. And oh how we need another male teenage character saving the girl at the end. (Yes you can read sarcasm there.)

But I spent the whole book hating him because he was so superior and so lacking in any care or drive to entertain the notion of getting help for the *whole* town. His attempted escape at the end of the book felt rushed and forced, and yet again another purely selfish action on his part. It was clearly just a means to the end the author had in mind.

Oscar wasn't the only character I disliked. I disliked them all. I disliked every single parent who moved their family there. I out right hated his father for obvious reasons. I disliked Nia because she was yet again a 2 dimensional character created for the benefit of a (sucky) male protagonist. I hated them all. Other than maybe Frank who drives the escape vehicle. But I might even hate him because who smuggles random people out now and then, and what? doesn't think twice about the rest of the poor brainwashed suburbanites?

Despite those two crucial factors (characters and ending), if I was to rate this book objectively, it is maybe very good. Not brilliant, not excellent, there were too many inconsistencies for it to be either of those adjectives, and the general flow of the text was stuttery (for a real technical term).
There are many discussions you could have in a class situation about free will, dictatorship, expectations, patriarchal society, *mental health even*.
There are clear comparisons that can be drawn between Oscar and his father. His father seeks to control everyone through mind control, whilst his son, in an attempt to help keep people as individuals uses his fathers very own mind control tricks on them. This would make for interesting debates in class, I'm sure. The ideals of right and wrong, when does something that's wrong become something that can be used for right? Etcetc.

Rating it from a personal viewpoint? The over all novel made me feel icky (another technical term) and panicky, two things I do not want from a text, so it gets a stone cold 2.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kristen "Kirby" .
60 reviews25 followers
December 29, 2010
The first 5 chapters of Candor had me thinking "Wow. This is going to be an exciting, well-rounded, and complex story."

Many, many chapters later, on page 162/256, I was sighing, hoping for something, ANYTHING to happen.

Then, on page 170ish there's finally a major conflict. (I'm sure you can guess what happens, but I won't say.)

The story took far to long to get started, but once it did, WOW. Awesome. The ending is unlike anything you'd ever guess.

Candor is a story to be taken lightly. If you look over all it's reasoning, and unexplained information, it's very unbelievable.

Here's some questions I can make off the top of my head.
Oscar manages to make his own messages to combat those of his fathers. How's he acquire the proper equipment? Surely father would notice if it went missing, and I doubt they sell it on the street. OR how does it even work, this creation of messages?

How did his father create the town and how did the occupants learn about it?

Why is Sherman so fat if all they eat is plain rye toast?
...and so on with the unanswered questions.

I liked it. Could have been better. (Wasn't sold on him instantly loving Nia, but hey, she had a brain of her own, which was clearly attractive.) Will catch the next book-- if there is one?

I hope so. The next one is SURE to be interesting. *winks*

Profile Image for Karin.
Author 15 books230 followers
October 6, 2009
Oscar Banks is the perfect boyfriend, the perfect son, and the perfect example of what every child should be like. Oscar’s father is the founder of Candor, an exclusive community where everything is perfect – there is no crime, teenagers do their homework and obey their parents, and everyone lives a healthy lifestyle (since instead of ice cream the stores only sell frozen yogurt and instead of popcorn at the movies they only serve carrot sticks).

Oscar plays the part of the model student perfectly – he has to in order to keep up his cover. Oscar has a way around the system and even developed his own business to counteract his father’s effects on the kids in town. Subliminal messages surround the inhabitants of Candor every moment of their lives. Messages like, Academics are the key to success, Keep Candor beautiful, Healthy breakfasts make for smart minds, and Avoid physical contact swirl through their minds, but Oscar has found a way to fight off the effects of the messages.

One day a new girl moves into town. Nia is completely different from everyone else. She is wild and free and Oscar quickly becomes fascinated with her. Oscar can’t stand the thought of Nia becoming like the other robots in town and starts to come up with a plan to save her.

CANDOR is an intense story about the dangers of control and the insistence of perfection. Readers will be fascinated with life in Candor and won’t want to put the book down. Oscar, even though self-serving at times, is a great character to get to know and Nia and Oscar’s relationship is heart-warming. In terms of science fiction, CANDOR is a winner.
Profile Image for Natalie.
278 reviews592 followers
December 6, 2009
I've been hearing a lot of great things about Candor, so naturally, I was excited to read it. The premise was definitely interesting--an entire town controlled by subliminal messages. With that being said, I had a difficult time getting into this book. Honestly, I had a difficult time finishing this book until the last 40 pages or so.

I think the characterization in the book is what made me have trouble sticking with it. The plot was interesting, the writer's style was good, but the characters never grew on me. Unfortunately, Candor fell into that "teen-characters-fall-in-love-but-I'm-not-sure-why" category. I could understand them being attracted to each other. Heck, I've been attracted to a guy walking past me on the street. But the "attraction" that occurs in the book is made out to be real love, and I just didn't buy it. Overall, I found the characters in Candor to be rather flat, which isn't a good thing at all, especially when the book is told in first person.

However, I did enjoy the ending of the book. I thought it did a lot in ways of developing the main character. The book ends in such a way that makes me think a sequel is in the works. If this is true, I'd probably pick it up at the library if I saw it, but I definitely won't be buying it. The ending was good, but for me, a good ending isn't enough to redeem an otherwise not so enjoyable novel.

If you guys have been planning on reading this, I'd recommend you'd try it, but I'd probably hit up the library before you buy a copy. I do have to say that the author has created a particularly interesting world--I just wasn't all that interested in her characters and for me, characters make the book.
June 10, 2016
Such a pointless read!

For me, this book went absolutely nowhere just one big pointless circle. I seriously don't understand how this book got so many 4 or 5 star ratings!

When I was on the first few pages, I must admit I was very intrigued. I was also captivated by the idea of subliminal messages being sent to control everyone. I also liked the parts where Oscar falls in love with Nia and decides he wants more from life than Candor can offer.

The narrative and plot were intriguing and there was a good sense of pace with this book. The characters also felt real and well developed and I could easily connect with them. It's just that ending....

I'll refrain from showing any real spoilers, but the ending was took shit to a whole new level. He goes nowhere! It was all a pointless book that circled right back to where it started! And there's not even a sequel! (Or at least not that I know of)
49 reviews
June 29, 2013
Like many other people, I jumped onto this book because of the plot. I mean, the concept sounded amazing, so interesting and unique.

The only problem: everything else was so bland.

Now, don't get me wrong. It seems like I have very high standards when it comes to dystopian novels. And it's not like this book was so terrible it deserves to be burnt. It was just... nothing.

The characters were mlehh, the writing was too simple and also mlehh, and the book was just mlehh.

I do admit when I finished the book I felt cheated. But then, after a while I realised that maybe it was meant to be this way and I actually came to respect the ending and what it was trying to tell me/the readers.

Candor was not bad, but neither was it great - and for that reason I gave it a very bland two stars.
Profile Image for H.
220 reviews31 followers
December 22, 2010
I have no idea what to say as I'm writing this review so let's start with how I'm feeling about the book right now, only half an hour after I've finished it. Disappointed, let-down.

I was even tempted to give it a two-star, but there were too many good parts that made up my mind about the book.

Candor's prompt is exciting. A brain-washed community, a boy/hero that's against it and a heroine to go along with it. Even the way people were brain-washed was interesting: by messages. It's a creepy idea that fills you with horror. A whole town, brain-washed to perfection. And the baddies end up in the Listening room, erased to typical perfect Candor kids, not to mention suffering from horrible side-affects afterwards.

What especially earned my favor was the emotional way the Banks were portrayed. The story wasn't just about the Messages and the dystopian appeal. Gradually, the readers find out why things are the way they are and the past behind Candor and it's creators.

There were so many parts there that I felt like crying through. When Oscar's pain was too real I felt it, when I kept whispering "No, no, no" as everything went wrong. I came to love Oscar. I couldn't even hate his father for all the wrong things he's done, it was like I pitied him in a way and I couldn't bring myself to hate him.

Then, the end changed everything. Bachorz had it in her to write a better ending but she didn't. From the beginning of Candor, I was surprised with the amount of creativity she showed to be utterly disappointed with her conclusion.

This may sound stupid for people that haven't read the book but I felt that Oscar and Nia deserved better.
March 22, 2019
Personal Response:
Personally, I really liked Candor by Pam Bachorz because of the undercover adventure that happened. Oscar went behind his dad’s back, so he could not be controlled. He also did the right thing, which taught a valuable lesson to the reader. Oscar’s dad, on the other hand, was not evil in any way. All he tried to do was help Candor’s children become perfect. I rated this book four stars, because it entertained me throughout the book.

Candor was a story about how a father wanted everything perfect. He bought land and put up smaller slots for sale for people to live in. He made his own little town exactly how he wanted. Every child was forced to listen to what their parents told them because they were being brainwashed to do the right thing. To do the right thing meant to do well in school, do the chores that were assigned, or even when there was free time to visit the library. The mayor of the town’s son, Oscar, was a very intelligent and good-looking student. He too was put in the listening room from the beginning. After so many years, Oscar grew to learn how to block all the messages that were thrown in his mind. The way he liked to explain it was like he threw a metal wall between his own mind and the messages that tried to get to enter. Once new kids came to town, Oscar tried to help them escape from the town and the messages that were going to be built into their minds. Oscar got especially attached to a new girl named Nia. She was a rebel who came to Candor because her parents wanted her to change. Oscar really liked this new rebel and actually broke up with his girlfriend for Nia. During Nia’s first few weeks in town, Oscar tried to help her escape. Then Oscar got too attached to her. He tried to help her stay in Candor with him and fight the music, like he had been doing for so many years. Whether he could do that or not, they continued to show affection for one another and never gave up.

Oscar Banks was the son of the town’s founder. He earned straight As, was student-body president, and controlled every club with his ex-girlfriend. Oscar was the hero to many others behind his dad’s back. He saved kids from subliminal messages that entered their heads. Oscar was the hero of the town in front and behind the curtains.

Nia was another main character that showed up a few short chapters in. She was very nice to Oscar but was not so nice to her parents. She always rebelled against her parent’s rules. That was why she was brought to Candor with her family. She was also a great artist. She always drew for Oscar and expressed her thoughts.

The setting took place in the mid-to-late two-thousands in the town of Candor, Florida. This town was built from scratch into a place where every parent wanted to bring their kids. The town of Candor was growing and was sought as a place to change the naughty children into nice children. The town also looked perfect because it had a fishing pond, their very own market, and a green/clean neighborhood. Every child in school was a perfect student. This neighborhood of teenagers had a role model community.

Thematic Connection:
Candor connected to any storyline with true love. Oscar, the model child for every family, was put through hardships/tough love. He was in love with Nia but never wanted to disappoint his dad. His father did not know that Oscar was no longer under his control. When Oscar fell in love with Nia, he realized how much harder it was to hide his secrets from his dad. Both Nia and Oscar risk what means most to them to stay together, proving true love. There are movies that came out, like Marley and Me, that showed how tough love was when they lost whom they loved.

People who could relate to tough relationships, could also relate to this book. The age group I recommended for Candor was between ages twelve and eighteen. The reason I recommended this book to that age group was because it included intimancy between two young lovers. I also recommended this toward an audience that liked to see perfect societies crumble.
Profile Image for P.M..
1,231 reviews
August 12, 2022
This was another ho-hummer. Neither Oscar nor Nia were characters who grabbed my attention and sympathy. However, the plot device of the hidden Messages was intriguing. Oscar's father has managed to create a flock of sheep who unwittingly follow his every command. I was saddened by the ending as one more sheep is enflocked.
Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,342 reviews303 followers
Want to read
June 2, 2022
I just finished the This Is Not The Jess Show series and I'm looking for my next weird sci-fi book, I think this might just be what I'm looking for.
Profile Image for monica ♪.
506 reviews71 followers
May 5, 2016
2.5 Stars

I don't really read dystopian. In fact, the only science fiction book I've ever read was The Divergent Series (and I haven't even read Allegiant yet) LOL
To my surprise, I actually enjoy reading this book. Maybe I really should read dystopian books more often.

For someone who has a very poor imagination and too-realistic like me, this book really captivated me. I could follow the plot easily without kept asking my self "how could that happen?! It's too unrealistic to happen in real life"
As I said earlier, I'm just too-realistic person. It really is a struggle to read dystopians because half of my mind keeps comparing it with reality—dystopian worlds are just too nonsense for my brain, but then half of my mind will remind me "it's called dystopian for reasons" LOL. 
So enjoying sci-fi books are really something to me. 

Candor is a community town founded by Oscar's father. This town is not an usual town, because it has The Messages that will 'fix' all the problems.
Oscar's father was an evil in disguise. He created 'The Messages' to turn all the residents in Candor to be good people and obey all the rules he made. In the other word, he turns them all into robots.

Although I found this book pretty intriguing, but I think it was too slow-paced for my taste. I'm easily get bored so I prefer the fast-paced kind of book. And I'm in reading slump at the moment, so it makes this book feels so boring...

There was no detail explanations why Oscars dad became so evil. Okay I know his wife left him, but the reader couldn't feel what he really felt until he decided to make whole people in that town to be his 'puppets'.
I wish the author would put some of his perspective, so that it would have been easier for me to understand it.

Since I'm used to reading NA contemporary romance, where the word 'Love' has a very deep meaning, that if someone dropped the L-bomb it means s/he already commits to settle down. But I think the 'I LOVE YOUs' in YA novels have different meaning.
To be honest I couldn't feel the chemistry between Oscar and Nia although they keep saying 'I love you' to each other.
Their so-called relationship was too superficial, imo.

And what disappointed me the most from this book was the ending.
Seriously it was sooooo confusing!!
Suddenly it was already the ending, without the conclusion of the story! All problems were left unresolved! It was like some chapters were missing. I thought I downloaded the wrong copy—the uncompleted one. But no. It really was the ending.
What a shame! This book really has good potential actually.

I would have given this at least 3.5 stars if the ending wasn't like that.
41 reviews1 follower
August 10, 2010
by Pam Bachorz

Think your parents are controlling? Oscar Banks’s father is a genius. He was sick of Oscar always getting in trouble, so he bought a huge chunk of land in Florida, created a subdivision, called it Candor, and invited other families with “troubled teens” to move in...for a price. Oh yeah, and he developed a way to use music to make teens do what they’re told to.

“It happens fast. One day kids are blasting their music, ignoring their parents, smoking or drinking or doing whatever they’re not supposed to.

And then, they’re dusting. Cooking dinner. Making their beds every morning. As long as it doesn’t interfere with homework.

[Oscar:] has watched 1,381 families move in. Thousands of kids, all changing to fit the same ideal.

But it’s not just the kids. Candor fixes everything.

Do you smoke? We’ll fix it. Got marital problems? Prepare for bliss. Undermotivated? Overeating? It will all go away in just a few weeks.

Everyone is saturated with Messages from the day they move in. Speakers are installed in bushes downtown, at the parks, in the stores—not just at school. And then parents play special custom “boosters” at home. Even send them off in care packages to their darlings at college. Candor kids only go to certain colleges, with certain accommodations: special dorms and classes. Music and speakers everywhere they go. Anything is possible with enough money.

You can’t hear the Messages—or at least, you don’t realize you’re listening. They’re subliminal. That means your subconscious hears them. And it obeys” (Page 18).

The worst part? The other kids in Candor don’t even have a clue it’s going on. Oscar’s heard all the Messages, but his Dad isn’t the only genius in the family. Oscar has found a way to make his own Messages. Ones that remind him to “control the messages” and “think independently.” And he sells these messages to other Candor kids…at least the ones who can afford them. For a price, Oscar will help the richest kids escape Candor and rejoin life “on the other side.”

Oscar is in it all for himself…until a new girl, Nia, and her family moves to town. Forget Mandi, his girlfriend of two years, Oscar is infatuated by the rebellious new girl and can’t stand to see her slowly become changed--like everyone else. So he desperately tries to plan their escape...before it’s too late and he loses her forever.

This one might just make you think twice the next time you turn on your radio or head to the mall!
Profile Image for Yan.
348 reviews74 followers
August 4, 2009
I wanted to lavish the book with compliments, with praise, with excitement on my face about how freaking much I love this book. Of course though, there’s a but (there’s always a but). I had some annoying frustration on my end when I first read Candor.

I guess my biggest reluctance would be Oscar. Oscar at some point seemed childish to me? His attraction to Nia may have resulted to the fact that she represents everything Oscar abhors. Does he only love her because he hates this town, hates his father? Is it because she is “different” than what he knows? I’m going to do a loose (very loose) interpretation to the Oedipus/Oedipal complex. The Oedipus complex is mother-fixated which I connect Oscar with. His mother was different from Candor, his mother loved art, his mother left. That can also describe Nia—Nia leaves Candor with the help of Oscar. Maybe it’s just me (I’m thinking 99.99% it’s just me). Some think just seemed off about Oscar, but I guess it takes two to tango. Perhaps it was a combination of Nia and Oscar that dulled the book?

Onto to happy thoughts now. Candor provokes the inner battle of how much can you control someone until the person is no longer an actually. Get rid of the need to breathe, eat, and sleep and you have yourself a town full of robots. There are those who understand this and run, but sometimes it’s too late. It’s the perfect paradise whether you want it or not. It’s quite a gripping idea to never have the ability to think for yourself, leave this imprisonment, and gain any sort of freedom.

I didn’t get the intensity that many others had. I didn’t get the sense of awe that others had. I just had the sense of oh, okay feeling. However this did change toward the last few chapters of Candor. The desperation was palpable, the conflict was strong, and the disdain was tangible. Oh, how I wanted to kill some of the characters.

The ending was the marvelous attribute to the story! I dare not say a peep but just that Candor's ending may have sold me to Pam's next book (should she write one).

Overall: A plotline that was faltered by some of the characterization from its great potential.
1 review
November 29, 2013
My whole high school is being made to read this book, one grade level at a time, and I was one of the last to get it. The whole time I kept hearing how terrible it was, which made me very reluctant to get into it, but I did as told.

In short, this book isn't terrible. The storyline is interesting once you suspend your disbelief and you gradually begin to like the narrator. There are a few major problems though.

1. So many lines just fall totally flat. There are some that actually elicited a physical groan, such as the terrible line from Oscar to his father at the climax, , while the majority just made me grown mentally.

2. Like I said before, the plot is okay once you suspend your disbelief, but what really wound up almost killing the book completely was the whole last half, which just felt like a poor rip-off reference to one of my favorite novels of all time, 1984 . It took the novel to a relatively interesting climax, but it's a lot more interesting in the classic that it's referencing! It just feels like so much less is at stake in Candor, because so much less is. That's not always bad thing, but that on to top of the dodgy writing and characters that you won't care about for almost the whole book, (if you ever do care about them at all,) makes this book pretty uninteresting in the long run.

This book is a fun read to some, plus the writing is easy and fast so you'll get through it quick, but for me it just still felt too long. It might be because I'm comparing it to 1984, and many books will fall flat when compared to that, but that's because it almost forces me to make that comparison.

In short, if you want to read dystopian fiction, hit up 1984 and get basically the same story told in a much more rewarding and enjoyable manner. If you've already read 1984 and can't get enough dystopian, then maybe check out this book, that is if you've already read other books such as The Giver, or maybe even Anthem if you feel up to some Ayn Rand. Both are much more interesting and thought provoking than Candor really even attempts to be.
Profile Image for Kelsey.
466 reviews11 followers
March 14, 2010
Wow, I've been reading a lot of great books lately and this one was no exception. Candor was an amazing read. I read it pretty quickly, too. It reminded me a bit of Uglies by Scott Westerfeld and The Giver by Lois Lowery. The first thing that captured me was the line on the back cover: "Stepford makes the perfect wife, but Candor teens are changed for life." Now anyone who has read or seen the movie, The Stepford Wives, knows exactly how scary this quote is. I was hooked from the first chapter and eagerly wanting to read more. The creepy thing about this book was how quickly one man can take control over so many people. There is technology out there that can control us without us even knowing. As I was reading I re-thought everything I was doing. I'm really thinking this right? I really want to do this, don't I? This book was eery in the sense that kept you reading, but also thinking outside the book, about what was really happening in your life. The characters weren't my favorite, but I did like how Oscar wanted to help people and fought to stay independent. The ending left me wanting to find out what happened, so I'm crossing my fingers for a sequel! I would highly recommend this book!

Now, some people might be put off my the topic of this book. Mind control, uh, no thanks. Well this book pulled me in and wouldn't let me go until the last page. I was reading on the bus, during study hall, in bed at night, any chance I could. The plot was so original and each chapter ended with a cliff hanger. This book was great, and I definitely want to get my own copy as soon as it's released- which is pretty soon, one week from today (also two days after my birthday, which if you didn't already know is this Sunday!!!) Anyway, continuing with the review, I think every teen needs to read this book, it has some important messages (no pun intended!!!) and is an overall great read.

Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Erica.
1,271 reviews677 followers
August 17, 2009
4.5 stars

Candor is a fresh take on the sci-fi topic of mind-control while being intriguing, thought-provoking, and almost a little creepy. The thought of teens lives being controlled by messages they don't even realize are there moves it right up the scale. Candor is definately a book to keep your curiousity pumping!

Candor took a few chapters to really pick up, but once it did, there was no putting it down. The story was addicting - I had to know what would happen next. Pam Bachorz kept you guessing at every twist and turn what was going to happen. The ending was the biggest shocker of all!

I loved all the characters, both main and supporting. Oscar and Nia were such opposites in some ways and alike in other ways. Nia was my favorite character, I loved her attitude and her I'm going to do what I want sass. At first I wasn't the biggest fan of Oscar, but the change in character when Nia comes into his life changed my opinion of him. When Nia came into his life, he was still the arogant son of a genius, but he seemed more real. The supporting characters were great as well. Mandi played her role perfectly, letting you see the effect the messages have on the teens. Sherman was another that because the messages in his life you found yourself sympathizing with him while at other times you were annoyed with him.

I was expecting something a little different from Oscar and Nia's romance. At first, it seemed there was no basis really and they just fell for each other right away. I didn't feel as much of a build between the two as I expected. Later, you truely can tell the emotions they have for each other are there completely, but to get there seemed a bit of a jump.

Candor is definately one to pick up this fall! I'd pick up a continuation of Candor's story in a heart beat should Pam Bachorz chose to tell us more!
Profile Image for K..
3,686 reviews1,007 followers
April 23, 2018
Trigger warnings: brainwashing, death of a sibling (in the past), blood.

2.5 stars.

So here's the thing: this concept was FASCINATING. An apparently utopian community that's actually a dystopian community thanks to a crapton of subliminal messaging? That's a freaking cool idea.

And there were things about it that I liked, but for the most part? This left me with more questions than anything. Like...initially, we're told that the subliminal messaging messes with the teenagers and the kids in town. But the more the story progresses, the more we're told that the messages work on adults too, that literally no one can ever leave town because their brains will melt out of their ears. Even the kids who go away to colleges can only go to colleges that have dorms that have been Candor-ified so that you get the subliminal messages whenever you're in the dorms.

Also, the adults know about the subliminal messages when they move their families there. And yet the messages work on them as well. Do they know that the messages will work on them? Or are they just too stupid to work it out??

Add in the fact that a lot of what Oscar is doing to Nia is...pretty fucking creepy (he's trying to protect her but in doing so, he's using subliminal messages to tell her to trust him) and I just...yeah. This book was unsettling. And not in a good way.
Profile Image for Espe.
85 reviews38 followers
December 7, 2009
I had heard so many good things about this book and I didn't love it. I think the concept is fantastic, especially this whole idea of a utopian society that is not connected to a post-apocalypse. I never really got into the why's of things, I never really understood the back story. I wanted to learn more about why Campbell Banks created this place to begin with. But, it seemed that despite the great concept, there was a rush to get somewhere, but I never connected with where I was supposed to be going. I don't know if that even makes sense, but while I was intrigued by the main character's ramblings, his relationship with Nia (the main female character) was almost inserted randomly. Like Oscar needed a reason to do what he did, let's put Nia there. While like typical YA novels, there is a love story and the two main characters fall in love, I never really understood why. Oscar tells of his love for her as being forever and I couldn't connect with that.

The climax was a bit exciting and very fast-paced. I was looking forward to a big ending and I got a cliffhanger instead. While I wasn't thoroughly impressed with the book, I am looking forward to a sequel, if only to have a resolution to the story.
Profile Image for Mrs. Palmer.
649 reviews3 followers
December 3, 2012
This book has subtle nods to 1984 in terms of mind control of subjects. However, the setting is Florida, and it's a town called Candor. It is never explained how Oscar Banks' father is able to just set up a town and brainwash everyone who lives in it without being figured out or called out on it. He's basically the ruler of this town, and the specifics of his subliminal messaging technology are never quite explained. Apparently his older son died as a result of his bad decisions. For that reason, Mr. Campbell decides that people need to be told how to live properly, and he creates this model town, where rich families move to have their kids straightened out.

Oscar is of course, the perfect model boy, only he's not, and he knows his dad's secrets. He meets a girl who is so different-she wears black! She skateboards! And this means that he falls in love with her, blah blah blah, they want to escape, etc.

The ending definitely reminded me of 1984, and that was the only positive thing I will say about this.

There were far too many logistical holes in this story for it to make sense, and I still am not sure exactly what the point is. Free will is good! Mind control is bad! Ok then.
Profile Image for Ariel Acupan.
50 reviews4 followers
October 3, 2011
Candor: In This Town, You Are What You Hear.

Oscar Banks live in a perfect town, Candor. Nobody leaves Candor. Why would you? Everything you needed is already there. The messages make sure of that. Who would not want perfect parents or perfect kids, healthy living and zero-crime rate? But what if someone wants to be different? To not be perfect . . .

The idea of subliminal messages being used for brainwashing was already out there. I remember way back high school, other says that many listens to Eraserheads (Local Filipino band) because it uses subliminal messages, hahaha :P. Going back, Candor was the first novel I've read that used it. Pam Bachorz makes you believe that it is real. The main character, Oscar Banks, seems to be in control of his mind. He founds a way to block the messages. He still pretends to be the model candor boy. He follows the messages like "the great are never late", "respectful space in every place" and "always strive to be your very best". Then something makes him change his mind . . . Great storytelling and plausible world building. At some part while reading it, I wanted to cover my ears. Maybe someone's trying to brainwash me. ;)
Profile Image for Audrey (Warped Shelves).
701 reviews38 followers
January 12, 2021
There was so much potential with this idea, and yet, the author just didn't know where to go with it. I nearly gave this story two stars for effort, but there is just so much to dislike that it keeps my rating at a one.

Unutilized Potential: This guy makes his own brainwashed Utopia because life sucks. He has all this power (as does his son, eventually), yet we barely scrape the tip of the iceberg that is this mind-control theme. Come on, Pam! I don't doubt your brainwashing mechanics (a very big plus! (your only one)) so use that to your advantage! Write something unprecedented!

Majorly Inconsistent Dystopian Rules: You can't tell me that everyone in Candor values conformity and equality and drives the same exact car, and then tell me the cars have unique paint jobs and vanity plates. This is dystopia; all the cars are the same color.

Disgusting Main Character: Oscar is a manipulative jerkwad and a pervert. He is mean, gross, and hypocritical in his apparent efforts to thwart Candor's Messages. I couldn't get myself to like or care for the main character or his ordeals. I couldn't get behind the insta-love, especially when Oscar was frequently thinking about how stupid Nia was when disobeying his orders.

Flat Secondary Characters: Overbearing, town-official father. Type-A girlfriend. Blubbering, sniveling, clingy, food-obsessed, fat kid whom you can't convince isn't your friend. Mysterious, artsy, skateboarding, new bad girl in town. We've seen them all before.

Predictable Plot: I pretty much knew what would happen and when. Aside from a couple of instances, I wasn't shocked or surprised by the story at all. Yawn. Be original, especially if you're writing sci-fi.

Cop-out Ending:

Other/Bad-Writing Inconsistencies: This is just a pet peeve and should be totally avoidable. "I dropped the hose" followed a few lines later by "I realize I'm still holding the hose." No, you're not. Somebody get an editor in here.

I got this book from the free library table and I don't know why I took it other than my book-hoarding tendencies. I see free books and I take them, whether I think I'll like them or not. In some cases (cough, cough) it does me more harm than good.

POPSUGAR 2021 Reading Challenge: (Advanced) The book on your TBR list with the ugliest cover (Guess you can judge a book by its cover. Hm.)
3 reviews
October 12, 2018
Personal Response:
I think the book Candor by Pam Bachorz is a good book to read for young teens and I really enjoyed it. This science-fiction novel is a book, which I would suggest for people who enjoy adventure books. It took me all over the place and was hard for me to imagine what was going on. This book is something I would definitely recommend to people. At first, I was kind of lost in the book and wasn’t sure if I was going to be interested in reading it but it just took a little while to get my attention. I had to read a few chapters to get hooked, but I couldn’t give up on it just because the beginning didn’t pull me in in right away.

The main events of the book are when Oscar takes Nia’s spray paint and spray paints a light pole. This is something banned in Candor. They say if a person does anything as bad as this, he will be in trouble for the rest of his life. Candor is suppose to be perfect so if a person gets caught doing something bad, the person is in huge trouble and a message will erase his mind. In the middle of the book, Nia finds out what Oscar does because Sherman tells Nia about what he did. She gets mad at him and breaks up with him because of it. Oscar is devastated and can’t handle not having her in his life. Later on in the book, they get back together. The last main event is Oscar’s dad has been spying on him with security cameras all around the house, but Oscar deletes the film of him sneaking out of the house because Oscar would be in big trouble if he found out about it. Oscar is always sneaking out because he tries getting people out of Candor since he doesn’t like the idea of his father controlling the whole town. Once I read the book, I understood what position Oscar is put into with his father.

Oscar is the main character of the book. He is in sixth grade and is the son of the mayor. His dad founded the town of Candor. His brother died which really put him through a lot. He later on falls in love with a girl named Nia. He is against the messages because he doesn’t think it is fair to people, so he sneaks people out of the town.

Another character is Nia. She moved to Candor with her parents not long ago, and she is considered bad because of the things she has done. She falls in love with Oscar as well, but she doesn’t know about the messages.

Sherman is a main character who is in the same grade as Oscar, as well. He wants to get out of Candor because he finds out about the messages, and he wants to live a real life where he is not controlled. Oscar is not friends with Sherman because he causes drama with Nia.

The setting of the book, Candor, is futuristic in a small town called Candor. Candor is such a small town which a lot of people don’t know about and is in the middle of nowhere. If the person is new to the town, there are messages sent to him. The mayor starts to control the newcomer’s actions the longer he stays in the town of Candor. The thing is, he can’t leave the town either so he is stuck.

I recommend the book Candor to eighth graders and up. There is some hard content to read in the book. I think if anyone is below this age level, he would have a hard time reading it. It also has some language in it but not too bad. I think boys and girls would both enjoy this book, especially people who are fans of science fiction.
27 reviews1 follower
October 31, 2018
Personal Response

Candor is not set up in a very individual way, which is ironic for a genre that seems to cover the theme of individuality a lot. Government-controlled thought is an overused idea in young adult fiction, so the immediate presentation of that in the book almost serves to turn the reader away. Furthermore, the romance is badly written, and none of the characters are very likable. However, I appreciated the 1984-esque ending.

Plot Summary

The book follows the narration of Oscar Banks, the son of the mayor of Candor, a Florida town that families move to in order to "fix" their problem children. The mayor uses mind control and subliminal messaging to control the citizens of Candor, and the parents usually know it. Oscar found out too, and he devised a method to get kids out of the town when it suits his own ends. Eventually, a girl comes into town that he falls in love with purely because she's rebellious. Oscar uses his knowledge of the messages to manipulate her into liking him back. He explains to her the dystopia of Candor and they plan to escape, but they are caught on the way out. She escapes in the getaway vehicle, but Oscar is caught by his father. The book ends with Oscar being brainwashed to forget everything, and he ends up perfect and compliant.


I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys young adult fiction books because the setup and plot are very familiar. It doesn't have any particularly explicit content, but it looks like it's intended for older readers. I do not think that older high schoolers would get anything out of the story. As always, books don't have gender.


There are several ways that the characters in the book change throughout the story. Oscar, the main character, is self-centered and greedy in the beginning, only getting kids out of Candor if they had a lot of money. In the middle of the book, he becomes more concerned with the well-being of the person he loves, and at the very end he has no personality at all. Oscar's father, the mayor, starts the book as an awful character, clearly the villain of the story. The middle of the book hints that he might have some human decency left in him, and Oscar almost coaxes it out of him, but his resolve hardens at the end of the book and he is worse than ever.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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