Tuesday, December 17, 2013

ARC Review: Control by Lydia Kang

Control by Lydia Kang
Control (Control #1)
By Lydia Kang
Format: eBook
Source: Author’s Publicist/NetGalley
Publication Date: December 26, 2013

To Sum It Up: Following the sudden death of their father, sisters Zelia and Dylia Benten barely have a moment to grieve when they’re faced with more crushing news: they’re going to be placed in separate homes. Zelia fears for her sister when Dyl is basically abducted in front of her eyes to be brought to her new “family.” Meanwhile, Zelia is taken in by a mysterious acquaintance of her father’s and suddenly finds herself among a group of teens with unique traits. At Carus House, she learns that Dyl may possess a trait, too, and she’s in the hands of some dangerous people who are all too willing to use it for their own gain. Zelia doesn’t care whom she has to go up against, though; she’s prepared to take on anyone who stands in the way of getting her sister back.

Review: 2013 has been a very good year in dystopian reads for me. I read some really excellent ones this year, and I definitely count Control among them. It’s a smart mix of dystopia and sci-fi that can sometimes be dark in tone but also breaks out the humor occasionally.

I tend to steer clear of dystopians that are heavier on the sci-fi elements because I’m not especially keen on reading a whole bunch of scientific jargon. I’d say that Control is one of the more sci-fi-esque dystopians I’ve read, and while I couldn’t quite muster the same enthusiasm for lab work and genetic research that Zelia, the protagonist, displays, I thought anything technical was well explained. The novel also has a futuristic vibe to it with all of its intriguing gadgetry, and being a gadget geek, I loved how inventive this world was.

Where I think Control really shines is in building up the relationship between Zelia and her new “family.” Her life changes drastically in a very short span of time; first she and her younger sister, Dylia, are orphaned after their father dies in an accident, and then Dyl is forcibly taken away by strangers, supposedly to her new home. So Zelia isn’t exactly trusting when she’s given a place to live by a mysterious woman named Marka. Zelia quickly finds out upon setting foot in Carus House that its residents are extremely unique with personalities that don’t always mesh. That’s where the book’s humor makes itself known, in all of the snarky banter that gets exchanged around Carus. As the newest arrival, it takes Zelia some time to warm up to her housemates and vice versa, but it’s the development of a camaraderie between them that for me, forms the book’s heart. Yes, Zelia’s resolve to find Dyl is touching, too, but it’s Zelia’s gradual realization that she’s not so alone after all that struck the strongest emotional chord with me.

Control doesn’t shy away from venturing into dark territory, either. What goes on in Aureus House, Carus’s much less ethical counterpart, is downright disturbing. Its motives could not be more different from those of Carus, which tries to provide a haven for kids who possess special traits that are not allowed to exist in society. Aureus seeks to exploit these traits, and these are the people whom Zelia must tangle with in order to get her sister back. They’re formidable and ruthless, but Zelia is a determined heroine who’s willing to face impossible odds.

I expect a good amount of thrills and action from dystopian novels, and Control doesn’t disappoint in those areas. It also delivers on the plot twists; Zelia’s search for Dyl leads her to discover some unexpected things about her sister, their father, and even herself. Of course, you’re still left with more than enough to speculate about in future installments of the series, which I completely plan on reading.

All in All: This is a fine debut from Lydia Kang. I really loved how she gave the group at Carus House such individual personalities while at the same time conveying how close-knit they were. The dystopian/sci-fi elements were also well done, and I definitely recommend this if you’re into either or both of these genres.


  1. Well I am *really* excited about this one now!! Wonderful review Lee, I'd been curious about it before but seeing how you described the characters and their relationships with one another sounds truly engaging...not to mention how attractive the sci-fi/dystopia/futuristic mix is to me :D The darkness and excitement the plot seems to have sound great too! I'm off to GR to confirm that this is on my TBR hehe

    1. I thought the characters had some great group chemistry with one another, even when they got on each other's nerves, lol. This book had a good balance of everything: humor, action, sci-fi/dystopia, and some chilling moments.

  2. Great review, Lee. I'm definitely picking this one up :)

  3. This sounds like a great read! I like scientific jargon as long as it's not too heavy, and the intrigues at the Aureus House seems really interesting! Great review!

    1. Aureus is a seriously creepy place, and that's what made reading about it so compelling to me!


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