Title: Kang, Lydia. (2015). Control. New York, NY: Speak.
Keywords: Dystopian thriller, genetic mutations, orphans, unconventional families
Caution: Plot Points Ahead
I read Control in two weeknights. I tend to read fast but this book read very quickly. I did have difficulty engaging with the novel at first but once I met the supporting cast of characters (around Chapter Three), I finally settled in to finish the novel.
Control is a YA novel set in a dystopian future of the United States, where in 2150 AD federal law is in abeyance and the States have since coupled up to form regional entities (and identities). The main character, Zelia, describes this phenomenon in offhand asides, such as Inky (Indiana and Kentucky) and Neia (Nebraska and Iowa). Zelia is also quick to inform readers that manipulation of the human genome is legally prohibited, and those with diverse or mutated genotypes are destroyed. Thus, we have the ingredients for a dystopian futuristic thriller.
Teenaged Zelia has a beloved younger sister Dylia, and a mysterious, almost absentee physician father. Often left to their own devices, both sisters are directed to study a variety of disciplines by their father for unknown reasons. The family also moves around, never settling in one place for longer than ten months at a time. The sisters are orphaned early on in the novel, and then separated into different foster environments. At that time, Zelia meets new housemates and a new love interest — all of whom have unique genotypes (some of which are expressed in the character’s phenotype, too). It is then no surprise to the reader that Zelia, too, has an unusual genetic trait.
Lydia Kang, the author, is a practicing physician, a poet, and non-fiction writer. Her medical background clearly informs her choice in plot and characters, and the breakneck pacing and the accessible vocabulary made the pages fly by. I had one problem that, really, is not central to this novel: the cliffhanger ending which separates young lovers that I see so much of in the YA thriller genre. This means that the reader has to wait until the next novel to discover more. Personally, that particular plot device drives me mad. I like an ending that feels as though the character has resolved something. Furthermore, the brooding bad boy love interest felt textbook.
Excitement Level: I’ve got the next book on order at the library.
Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. I checked this book out from the local library, and reviewed it on my own.