Control by Lydia Kang
Book One of the Control series
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: December 26, 2013
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by a blogger friend (Thank you, Nereyda!)
Summary (from Goodreads):
An un-putdownable thriller for fans of Uglies
When a crash kills their father and leaves them orphaned, Zel knows she needs to protect her sister, Dyl. But before Zel has a plan, Dyl is taken by strangers using bizarre sensory weapons, and Zel finds herself in a safe house for teens who aren't like any she’s ever seen before—teens who shouldn't even exist. Using broken-down technology, her new friends’ peculiar gifts, and her own grit, Zel must find a way to get her sister back from the kidnappers who think a powerful secret is encoded in Dyl’s DNA.
A spiraling, intense, romantic story set in 2150—in a world of automatic cars, nightclubs with auditory ecstasy drugs, and guys with four arms—this is about the human genetic “mistakes” that society wants to forget, and the way that outcasts can turn out to be heroes.
What I Liked:
YAY I REALLY LIKED THIS BOOK! I was afraid that I wouldn't, because this one was one of my highly anticipated debut novels of 2013. I hate that feeling when you wait for something for so long, and then it is just BAD. Well, that is not the case with this one! For me, at least.
Oh, and big thanks to Nereyda from Mostly YA Obsessed, for sending me this book. This review would not be possible without her and her amazing self. You rock, lady!
Back to the review. This book is so complex! Set in the future, this book exemplifies the wonders and terrors of science. Mutations are possible - and in this book, children with special traits can be used for their traits, and exploited. Zel and her sister Dyl are separated, after their father dies, and Zel knows something is wrong. Apparently, Dyl has a special trait (unknown to Zel or Dyl), and Zel will stop at nothing to get her sister back, and to safety.
One of the things I really liked about this book is how unique Zel is. After reading so many YA novels, you kind of see the same type of YA heroine over and over. Not in EVERY novel, but in many novels, especially the recent ones, the heroines start to act and sound and seem the same. Well, Zel is different. Her attitude is different. Her being is different. All of this makes her character development different.
Zel considers herself deficient, underdeveloped, ugly, especially when compared to her sister. Zel was born with Ondine's curse, a condition that makes her much less than perfect. She has difficulty breathing, and has to wear something that regulates her breathing. Also, she seems to be a late bloomer. Her body isn't very... developed, for a seventeen-year-old.
Well, no matter. In the beginning of the book, Zel seems very depressed and hollow, despondent and weak. As the book goes on, and Zel has to fight to get her sister back, she grows, in character and in physicality. Living with new people - Vera, Hex, Wilbert, Cy, and Marka - isn't easy, and it definitely builds her character. I really liked the character development in Zel. In the end, she has to use dirty tricks to do what she must, but she has to do so. I do no fault her, because honestly, I'd probably do the same, if it were my sister involved.
This book's plot deals with getting Dyl back. Another group has Dyl, a group that wants to exploit her potential abilities for financial gain. But there is something else. They want something else from her, something tied to Ana, Cy's sister. Everything is twisted and connected, and Zel is in the middle of everything.
I loved how interesting Kang kept this book. I don't think I was ever truly bored at any point in this book. Every time I thought the plot would steady, Kang threw in another plot twist or revelation or new piece of information. This isn't to say that there was TOO MUCH going on - no, not at all. Kang had a way of keeping the plot moving, but not to the point where the plot was moving, but readers would be left behind.
The romance is a pretty sizable part of this book. It isn't the overarching theme of this book, or the dominant part of the plot, which is good. It's there, and in the first half of the book, it's somewhat subtle. I really liked the romance in this book, because it creeps up on you, slowly and progressively. I think readers really get a chance to fall in love with the couple, so, no insta-love. In my opinion. No love triangle either.
I LOVE how science-y this book is! You all know I'm huge in math and science - environmental engineering major, what up! Kang uses her science background to her advantage, and in turn, this book is heavily science-based. I personally don't think the science was overwhelming, but I'm used to quite a bit of biology/chemistry/genetics studies, so I enjoyed the employment of so much science.
The ending. I kind of saw it coming (not a bad thing at all), so I wasn't enraged or devastated or cheering or celebrating or anything very passionate. I like the ending. It fits this book really well, even if it is, um, a smidgen bittersweet. I don't want to give anything away. Don't worry about liking/disliking the ending! If you pay attention in this book, and if you really read this book and understand this book, you'll see that no other ending would fit this book better than the one that Kang wrote.
What I Did Not Like:
This might scare some of you, but I kind of wanted more scientific explanations. I don't really understand the mutation thing - that certain babies have traits due to mutations, and others don't. Why? How was this brought about? Perhaps I need to re-read this book and see if I missed the explanation somewhere. I re-read a certain passage, but it didn't clear up much. And the thing that Zel was doing with the DNA linking? I don't really understand that either - not the linking part, but the purpose of that. What was she achieving, by stringing and linking all the DNA?
Kind of minor, nit picky complaints, but as a science nerd, I truly would like to understand. But that's it (from me) for dislikes! This book just felt like a four-star-read to me, versus a five-star-read.
This is definitely a novel for science fiction lovers! As I said, I loved how this book was so entrenched in science - specifically, genetics and genomes. However, you don't have to love science fiction to enjoy this book! It's an amazing thriller as well, and the romance in this book is simple and sweet. All around, Control is a good fit for many, many audiences!
4 stars. Bring on Catalyst! I cannot wait to see what book two has in store for us.
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