Control by Lydia Kang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Control is a futuristic dystopian story that includes solid characters, an interesting story and at times had me thinking of the X-men the way the kids in this story dealt with their genetic enhancements/challenges. When Zel and Dyl are suddenly orphaned they find themselves in a world neither of them could have imagined and from the first pages, we are taken on quite a ride.
Carus and Aureus are competing homes for orphaned children that have genetic anomalies. Zel and Dyl were given blood tests as part of their intake and when Aureus finds out that Dyl has an anomaly that makes her valuable, they come and take her away. Unfortunately for them, Zel is determined to get her back. Control is told from Zelia’s point of view and Zel spends her time trying to find her little sister and at the same time, figure out just what her father was really involved in. As she learns more and more, Zel isn’t even sure she knows who her father really was.
When Zel is taken to Carus we are introduced to a number of characters. Marka, Hex, Vera, Wilbert, Ana, and Cy. All of these characters add layers to the story and have an impact on Zel. Each one of these characters has an anomaly that makes them different from the rest of society and the fact that Zel is normal makes her stand out. Some have extra arms and heads while some have abilities that are hidden much easier. As the story progresses, we learn more about each of these individuals and how they fit into the plans Zel has to get Dyl back. Additionally, some of my favorite parts were when they were all together as one unit and interacting as a whole group.
I enjoyed seeing the relationship develop between Zel and Cy. It seemed a bit rushed at times but I suppose the timing fit the story. Cy is closed off and angry – mostly at himself and he tries to keep his distance but he is clearly drawn to Zel. At the same time, Zel isn’t afraid of him and forces him to notice her. At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about Zel as she seemed like a bit of a pushover. The exception is when she is protecting her sister. Zel is also a loyal person and until she sees the evidence, she believes in her father. As she becomes more confident and understands more about herself, she becomes a stronger character. A big part of this was the way Cy made her see herself – she may have thought she wasn’t anything special but he thought she was and continually reminded her of that fact.
I do wish I had a better understanding of Micah’s motives. I was confused as to why he did what he did and his ultimate goal. Clearly Aureus/Sul/Aj was motivated by the money and value the genetic enhancements could bring to them but Micah didn’t make sense to me. The way things wrapped between Zel , Dyl, and Michah make me wonder what Kang has in store for these three.
I thought Kang did a good job of world building in this first book. There is a futuristic angle and from page one the reader is pulled in. She also created some memorable characters that have me interested in seeing where the rest of this story will go. The science seemed accurate but I have to say I wouldn’t have had any idea if it weren’t. I will definitely pick up the next book when it comes out and am glad I was able to get an early copy of this book.
Thank you to Penguin First to Read and the publisher for the copy.