Written by: Pam Bachorz.
Published by: Egmont.
Released: 2nd August 2010.
Official synopsis: "Oscar Banks has everything under control. In a town where his father brainwashes everyone, he's found a way to secretly fight the subliminal Messages. He's got them all fooled: Oscar's the top student and the best-behaved teen in town. Nobody knows he's made his own Messages to deprogram his brain. Oscar has even found a way to get rich. For a hefty price, he helps new kids escape Candor, Florida before they're transformed into cookie-cutter teens. But then Nia Silva moves to Candor, and Oscar's carefully-controlled world crumbles. "
This book was definitely a refreshing experience. In a world where magic, vampires and werewolves adorn the bestseller lists, it has a stark realism, very thought provoking, and raises some worthwhile questions. Who is watching us? Are we being controlled, manipulated?
I absolutely loved this book. It's riveting - completely unputdownable - and written beautifully. It's easy to follow which helps when you have a complicated premise. I like the fact that it's in first person, as well. It really draws the reader in, and I just think that in this book it works particularly well. You really get taken into the mind of a fourteen year old boy (having been one myself...). Oscar is perfect, or so he is seen. He is in fact working to bring down everything that his father has created.
In Candor, everyone is happy. The children are well behaved. Rules are not broken. There's no crime - only respect for one another. It's such a perfect place to live, that people flock there. Once they arrive, it doesn't take long for the messages to take hold.
The setting is perfect. It reminded me of the programme Desperate Housewives. Picturesque. Peacefull. Happy. The last place on earth you'd expect an entire population to be brainwashed. I like the way that the messages just seem to pop into the characters heads. It's not your general theme of brainwashing - be it instilled in someone from a young age - or done in some dark room. It's more reminiscent of a conscience.
A thriller that I would read again and again and again. I cannot recommend it enough. As I said earlier in this review, it is so refreshing and compelling.
All I can say is I sincerely hope there is a sequel or that Pam Bachorz writes another book because after this I am gagging for more! And it certainly wins an award for the most striking and bizarre cover of 2010 before you even get into it. I HATE wasps (have a borderline irrational fear of them!), but there's something strangely compelling about the cover. Highly recommended!
Thank you to Jenny at Egmont for my copy!