My rating: 4 of 5 stars
On the outside, Oscar Banks has the perfect life. He’s smart. He’s popular. He’s got a girlfriend. His dad runs the community of Candor. He’s the model child.
Beneath that exterior, Oscar is fighting. Music is everywhere in Candor and with are the Messages. These are meant to keep the kids healthy, safe, and controllable. “Studying is your top priority.” “Always make your parents proud.” “Respectable space in every place.”
Oscar’s official job on the weekends is to show people around the model homes in Candor. His unofficial job is sneaking rich kids back to the world outside Candor before the Messages take hold of them completely. He’s got to be careful. There’s real danger if his dad learns he’s not the perfect son.
Except the newest girl in Candor is ruining his ability to be careful. Nia fascinates Oscar. She’s a rebel and an artist. Around her, he finds himself daring to do more than before–even to spray a bit of graffiti. Yet as Oscar is discovering himself, Nia is losing herself.
Pam Bachorz’s debut novel is a compelling read. The underlying essence of Candor is fascinating and frightening. Characters shift and change, and I was left wondering who any of them truly were underneath, even Oscar. A lot of background went into what Oscar’s dad did in creating Candor, but this information was given to the reader in a well paced manner. The ending of the book is intense, and the final chapter is well-written torture, even if I peeked at it ahead of time. I’m interested in seeing what the author’s next book will be.