Review: Control

controlTitle: Control

Author: Lydia Kang

Publisher: Dial/Penguin

Pub. Date: December 26, 2013

Genre: YA

Rec. Age Level: 12+

More by author: n/a

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The year is 2150 and Zel, her younger sister Dyl, and their father are, once again, moving. The trio moves often, jumping from one state to the next, but this time is different. This time, Zel’s father is acting different and doesn’t seem to have a clear cut plan… and things go from bad to worse when, shortly into their trip, their vehicle is slammed into and totaled. Zel’s father doesn’t make it through the accident and, then, Zel and Dyl are mysteriously tested and then forcibly separated. Zel’s life is quickly spinning out of control. She’s lost her father and her sister and is suddenly overwhelmed with the knowledge that there are individuals, Dyl included, with mutated genes that give them special abilities and powers. Dyl has been taken by Aureus, a group that seeks to exploit her abilities, but first they must figure out what those powers are. As Zel races the clock to uncover the secrets hidden within Dyl’s DNA, she forms unexpected bonds with a group of mutated kids her father and new guardian, Marka, have kept hidden and safe from the evil clutches of Aureus and discovers shocking truths about her past, present, and future.

Lydia Kang’s debut has been compared to Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies books, but, to me, it had a similar feel to Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers books. Ultimately, Control was not what I expected. It’s been a long time – probably since I read the Darkest Powers books – since I’ve read something quite like this. There is something that I can only describe as gritty happening within the pages of this novel. The characters aren’t perfect or stereotypically beautiful or attractive, but, as you sink further into the world and story, you find your idea of what is beautiful and attractive changing. The love interest, who you might not normally label attractive or “hot” is suddenly your biggest crush, even though your were a bit miffed about his looks at the start of the book. I love that. As Zel comes to appreciate the unique qualities and outward appearances of the kids she meets, we, the readers, do too!

As much as I loved all the secondary characters in Control, I did find myself frustrated with Zel quite often. I suppose, if she would have been smart all the time, not much would have actually happened in the book, but she really had an issue with thinking things through. That drove me absolutely bonkers sometimes, as she regularly made situations much worse than they had to be by being stubborn and not listening to reason. Still, I had to admire her determination and unfailing love for her sister.

I’ll definitely be reading next installment of Zel’s story, Catalyst, which is slated for a 2014 release. She changed a lot through the course of the novel and I came to appreciate her strength by the final pages. I’m excited to read what other kids with powers exist that Zel and her group are sure to meet!

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