Prepare your brain.
*Incoming message transmitted.*
You must read Candor. This book is different. This book has a clever boy. Too clever if he thinks he has a chance against a town's (his father's!) subliminal messages.
So I think I have discovered my favorite read of 2009. Candor by Pam Bachorz.
We all love stories about boys who fight against the system. After all, when we're on the sofa or at the beach reading, we're basically just loafing about, so if we can live vicariously through a hero facing incredible odds, we're cheering on the inside as we flip the page.
Oscar Banks is my new hero. He's the worm in the pretty apple that is Candor, a town that is seemingly perfect. Too perfect. No crime, no violence, everyone listens. That's because Oscar's own father has invented a system of messages that the brain picks up. Yep, good ol' brainwashing. At school the kids are told not to be late to class, not to cheat, not to disobey. At home, the kids hear (without ever being aware of it) to eat their veggies, do their homework, make their beds.
Oscar's aware of what is going on and fights every day to keep control. If he fails, he'll slowly become one of the grinning good boys. If his father ever finds out he resists, he'll be hauled off to the Listening Room for a complete mental wipe.
In other words, the stakes are dire.
Why does he stay? Well, he's a bit mercenary and been running an underground freedom train for rich kids who want out (parents pay a million dollars to buy a house in Candor).
Things start to go awry when Nia moves into town. She's rebellious when she arrives and Oscar's attraction is sudden and fierce. Which leaves him in a dilemma: if he helps her out of town, he probably won't ever see her again; but if she stays, she'll become a drone and what he likes in her will be destroyed. What's a schemer to do?
Complications like a dreadful rich kid client who is jealous of the attention Oscar's giving Nia as opposed to helping him escape Candor, Oscar's old girlfriend, and dealing with the family dysfunction that drove the father to create a "perfect environment safe from harm" mean that the book has plenty of moments where you'll go damn. In a good way.
I love so much the many subliminal messages. For instance:
Saturday night is family night. Save your weekends for family time. Make your family a priority.
Always be courteous.
Respectful space in every place.
The great are never late.
Kinda chilling in a numb, whitebread way, right?
This is Bachorz's debut novel. I'm impressed. I'm envious. I didn't want to stop reading. Oh, and what an ending... but I can't tell you that. I want to, I so do. But something is keeping me. Like a whisper at the back of my mind...