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Control #1


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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.

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.

393 pages, Hardcover

First published December 26, 2013

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About the author

Lydia Kang

23 books2,129 followers
I love salt more than chocolate. I'm somewhat small, yet deceptively strong. Sort of like an ant.

I'm a part time doc, full time family member, and if you offer me snacks, I'll be a friend for life.

My adult fiction centers around historical mysteries in New York City, with splashes of forensics, anatomy, apothecary medicine, and chemistry! A BEAUTIFUL POISON takes place in 1918 at the height of the influenza epidemic; THE IMPOSSIBLE GIRL centers around the illegal grave robbing world; and forthcoming in July 2020 is OPIUM AND ABSINTHE, with--you guessed it--opium and absinthe. And possibly vampires!

I have a nonfiction adult book written with Nate Pederson entitled QUACKERY: A Short History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything, coming in 2017 (Workman).

My most recent YA novel is TOXIC, a space opera about a created, teen girl who's abandoned on a biological spaceship, and the mercenary boy doomed to die on it. I've also written THE NOVEMBER GIRL, set on a remote island on Lake Superior. A girl with violence running through her veins meets a boy running away from an abusive home life. Both from Entangled Teen/Macmillan.

I'm also part of the new anthology, COLOR OUTSIDE THE LINES, with Soho Teen coming in 2019!

My YA sci-fi novel, CONTROL, debuted December 2013 (Dial/Penguin). The sequel, CATALYST, released March 2015 (Kathy Dawson Books/Penguin). I released a short story in the dark YA anthology, AMONG THE SHADOWS October 2015.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 613 reviews
August 13, 2016

This is a cheap designer knockoff of the X-Men series, with none of the complexity, none of the compelling social issues, and a completely preposterous faux-dystopian world. Instead of the jaw-dropping skills of the X-Men, we have a completely lackluster cast of so-called mutants with the combined powers of lulling me the fuck to sleep. There is rampant girl-on-girl hate and passive-aggressive criticism on provovative dress. There is a special, special girl.
“You’re so much more extraordinary than you give yourself credit for. And I’m not just talking about your mind. Your body too.”
There is thinly veiled slut-shaming, even to one's supposedly beloved little sister.

Shaming your 13-year old baby sister for the way she dresses? For her beauty? For the fact that she attracts men? How fucking vile can you get?
Micah gives her a smile and Dyl returns the favor. Like a prize racehorse, she’s even showing teeth in perfect, pearly order. She’s passing with flying colors.
Beauty is not a fucking sin. It is not evil to be lovely.
Beauty. Dyl’s worth is no longer in her looks, it’s in this strand of hair. And I’ll use my own, plain, unspectacular self to help her.
It is not immoral to attract attention. Beauty should not be looked upon as a curse, a scarlet letter, a girl is not shameful because of her looks. A girl should not be ashamed for the fact that she attracts the attention of others. What I hate about this book is that the fact that beauty is looked down as almost impure. Ugliness, plainness is seen as a virtue within its book, at the price of demeaning the other female characters who happen to be beautiful. The main character, Zelia, constantly highlights her own ordinariness, her own plainness, her own diminutive stature, which is more boyish than Venus de Milo, as the virtuous Puritan ideal---with the underlying, unsaid message that it is better to be righteous and homely than beautiful and innately slutty.
I’m a total embarrassment. My refusal to wear makeup, nice shoes, or tight clothes. My penchant for getting excited over CellTech News, my favorite holo channel. My endless nagging about her flashy dresses and too-shiny lipstick.
Sluttiness is, of course, defined by the way you dress. A girl and another girl cannot exist in the same space without cat fighting. Fuck that shit. Seriously, fuck that shit.
I point to myself and silently mouth the words What did I do? to Wilbert.
“My guess is, you’re female and you exist. Probably an alpha female thing, like wolves or rats—”
A beautiful girl cannot open her mouth without uttering something completely and unnecessarily sexual and provocative.Fuck slut shaming. I mean, really. You cannot judge a person by the way they look. You cannot judge a girl by the way she dresses.
I’m not shocked by the fact she’s wearing the latest fashion from Hookers-R-Us. It’s her face.
Screw anyone who thinks a girl is a bitch, is a slut, is a fucking whore because she dresses provocatively. I live in Southern California. I wear short shorts like they are going out of fashion. I wear the tiniest of miniskirts. I wear crop tops. I'm also college-educated. I'm also fucking smart. I'm also fucking well-read and you better believe that it pisses the bloody hell out of me to read snide comments coming from a book's female narrator on the appearance of a possible female friend, making everything she does sexual.
Vera is on my floor, staring at her crotch.
Well, she’s doing yoga, but in essence, that’s what’s going on.
Making everything she wears sexual. And making judgments on---my fucking god---her own BABY SISTER.

There is a baffling romance that comes out of the blue, and a bewildering attempt at a love triangle that has Wolverine, Jean Grey, and Cyclops shaking their heads, simultaneously saying "Get the hell out of my face."

There will always be people who choose to dismiss the significance of comics as an art form. There will always be those who will laugh at what they see as a juvenile form of books, they will say that comics are devoid of complexity. They are wrong. The X-Men series addresses so many issues superbly, among them, the moral, social, and ethical implications of the existence of mutants among mankind, the difficulties of growing up as a mutant. This book almost completely ignores the multiple ramifications of the existence of mutants, instead choosing to focus on the yawn-inducing adventures of a TSTL, vapid, judgmental girl.

Summary: Zelia and her younger sister, Dylia, live with their widowed father in a baffling futuristic version of the US that makes absolutely no sense. Zelia had a conditon at birth, known as Ondine's Curse. She cannot breathe subconsciously. She has to make an effort at it. Zelia has to consciously remember how to breathe. In. Out. In. Out.

There is a medical device that Zelia can wear that aids her in breathing. Zelia doesn't fucking wear it most of the time because it makes her feel uncomfortable. You know what also feels uncomfortable? The lack of oxygen to your fucking brain, you dumb twit.

In this version of the future, they have automated cars. Magpods. You can program it. It will drives for you. Zelia take her family out for a drive. She drives manually, because fuck techology, she's fucking hipster like that. She gets into a car accident. Her father dies. Her family falls apart. Zelia and her sister are now subject to the foster system.

Only it doesn't quite work that way. Instead of being assigned to a family, the sisters undergo a Testing. The social worker, Micah, assigned to her case know her and her very very illegal younger sister's bra sizes. Not fucking creepy at all. The next thing you know, Dylia is kidnapped, and the system is telling Zelia that she does not have a sister, that her sister is not registered in the system, that her sister does not exist. Zelia herself gets assigned a foster mom who's Professor X's cousin's sister's half sister twice removed, for all of her effectiveness. She takes Zelia to the Carus House, a home for foster children, where they meet a bunch of mutants who are roughly as threatening as my stuffed spider.

(His name's Webby. He's a really cute stuffed spider)

There's a boy with two heads, a watered-down version of Beast. There's a girl, a really gorgeous girl named Vera, with the body of a Victoria's Secret Model and the sexual thirst of a 14-year old boy left rampant in the Playboy mansion.

She does something with plants. Like grow them or something. So useful. SO USEFUL.

There's a really, really nice boy with 4 arms. That's pretty much all he has. There's a motherfucking douchewaffle named Cy whose only known skill is to regenerate his body so fucking fast that he can have different full body tattoos eeeeeeevery fucking day!
The tattoos. No wonder they keep changing. His body must metabolize the ink so fast that he gets a clean slate every day.
Now I ain't saying he's an asshat, but...
Cy’s not done. He spits on the floor again. “She’s damaged goods.”
Weeeeeeell. Maybe he's got different sides to his personality. Maybe he has a heightened appreciation for art.
It’s a painting of a dismembered hand, fingers stretching to extremes, but cut off at the wrist, leaning against the wall. The one next to it shows a long bone, still smeared with blood, floating in the same pale blue void the hand is in.
Oh, no, that's not creepy at all. I would never dream of imagining that someone with an obsession for excessive piercings, a love of bloody art, and an appreciation for self-mutilation might hurt me in the least. Totally innocent. The fact that Cy has paintings of gore and blood and dismemberment doesn't mean that he's not a secretly sensitive soul at heart. He's sooooooooo not a psychopath or anything.

*singsong* Guess who's the projected love interest!!!!! ^_^ Fucking please.

Zelia is determined to find out what happens to her sister. It's the most fun investigation ever because Zelia gets to go fucking clubbing in the slaughterhouse district, man! Then later on, she gets to drive a Porsche. Then later on she gets to make out with the yummy Cy, and yummy?! I mean yummy! I mean his eyes, his eyes!
It warms his slate eyes just a touch, like cold butter that softens after landing on warm toast.
One glance into those deadly attractive eyes and Zelia is toast. ^_^

Oh, Zelia has a sister who's disappeared. Right.

The Setting: The mutants do not play a credible role in the book. Their banishment from the society is not a imminent threat, it doesn't feel real. There is no danger. There is social isolation, not ostracization, because there is almost no example of ostracization in the book regarding the treatment of mutants besides hearsay.

The world building is fucking lazy and completely devoid of imagination and sense. Tell me if this makes any damn sense to you. The United States no longer exists. States have seceded. SERIOUSLY? Let's get one thing straight. It's not fucking easy to secede. Here's an imagined map of what would happen if states had been successful in seceding. The point is that it's fucking incredible, guys. Even more so is the fact that states are combined. We have Neia (Nebraska and Iowa), Okks, Ilmo, Alms. Alaska is its own country, having seceded 4 years ago.

Some States have their own dress codes. Their own DRESS CODES. Some states have mandatory uniforms for men and women.

Seriously, do you? Do you think that in a country where even a school uniform becomes a controversial issue, that somehow magically in the future, we become fucking robots who would agree to a Moral Code and the wearing of adult uniforms? Do you fucking believe that marriage will be abolished, replaced by a term called "legal fusion" when the institution of marriage has been in existence for, I don't know. Like all of humanity? Do you really think our morals, our beliefs, our willingness to lie down and take governmental control on all fucking fours is credible? Really? Do you? If you don't have a problem with the willing suspension of disbelief in order to mindlessly accept a convoluted dystopian future, this book is for you. I cannot accept this.

This futuristic US does not have blue sky. We have no sunshine. We have no skies, because it is all covered up by something called an "agriplane." Because, surely, there is no fucking farmland to be had in the futuristic Kansas and Nebraska, also known as America's Heartland, the main manufacturing and farming region in the United States, at all.

Totally believable. I don't fucking think so.

The Romance: Cy fucking hates Zelia. He belittles her. He calls her names. She faints. He kisses her. She faints into his arms (AGAIN!). They play tonsil hockey.
“Oh, you know. After you passed out, Cy knocked us out of the way to give you mouth-to-mouth. He freaking French-kissed you all the way home, in the name of saving your life. What a goddamned romantic. I had no idea he had it in him.”
Out of fucking nowhere, they fall in love.
Boyfriend is too limited a term for what Cy has become to me. Water? Oxygen? That might do.
WHAT? WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?! And that fucking love triangle. So weak it's not even funny. It shouldn't have existed. Like this book.
I rev the engine afresh, and the char thrusts ahead with a roar. The speed is therapeutic, but does nothing to erase the memory of two very different kisses.
Profile Image for Christine Riccio.
Author 4 books101k followers
February 20, 2014
I had a lot of fun reading Control. I really was expecting something very different than what it ended up being and I like that! I like that it was very much not what I thought it would be. I didn't know how much I was going to like it but about 150 pages in things started really rolling and I had trouble putting it down! I find Lydia Kang's world in Control to be so interesting. I'm fascinated by it and how it will continue to fill out. Here's my full review/discussion/booktalk: http://youtu.be/fzUcHLCB-74
Profile Image for Isa Lavinia.
604 reviews304 followers
January 1, 2015

tw: misogyny, slut shaming, abuse, miscarriage, and I'm probably forgetting 15 other things

This book is everything that's wrong with YA: slut-shaming, girl-on-girl hate, hypersexualization of everything girls do even when it's not even remotely sexual, a verbally and emotionally abusive love interest who kisses the protagonist while she's drugged, weak worldbuilding, boring stereotypical characters, an attempt at a love triangle, absurd dialogue, girls only realizing their worth if a boy points it out. I could go on and on.

Let's start with our protagonist: Zelia.
She spends the entire book slut shaming other girls. Most disturbing of all, slut shaming her little 13 year old sister. She's 17 years old, why is she always comparing herlself and demeaning her kid sister for liking perfume, make-up, doing her hair, boys? She seriously cannot go for a single page without putting her sister down, it's so sickening...
There is such insidious misogyny throughout this book, and the author is aware of this because she makes Dylia, the sister, remark upon it:
“You look nice without makeup,” I say between the regimented breaths of my necklace.
“Please, Zel. No lectures,” she says, combing her damp hair with her fingertips.
“I’m not lecturing you.”
“It’s a sneaky lecture. You’re an expert in those.”

Zelia also suffers from a severe case of "I'm Not Like Other Girls":
"I’m a total embarrassment. My refusal to wear makeup, nice shoes, or tight clothes. My penchant for getting excited over CellTech News, my favorite holo channel. My endless nagging about her flashy dresses and too-shiny lipstick."

Because, as everyone knows, in YA if there's a girl who likes science this automatically means that'll be her entire personality. It defines her. There is no time for liking boys (or girls), fashion, or make-up! Because she likes science, so she's a social pariah.

Even so, Zelia falls into the clutches of her love interest. I suppose it's meant to be romantic, or something? I'm sorry but I don't find verbally abusive men to be appropriate love interests in anything, but even less so in YA.
Ladies, if a guy has something like this to say about you:
"He spits on the floor again. “She’s damaged goods.”

"I didn’t come here to discuss societal rejects."


Not Zelia, though...
“If I hear another but or can’t or don’t today, I will unleash the hellfire of all things female and bitchy and you won’t recover for a millennium. Okay?”

Yes! Amusing "threats" of stereotypical female "bitchiness" in response to emotionally manipulative controlling behaviour! That's so much healthier than cutting that asshole out of your life because you deserve better! Great message!

But on to the plot, Zelia and Dylia are constantly on the move with their abusive and controlling (not that this is explicitly condemned, instead, it's justified because he's just ~trying to protect them~, because he ~loves them so much~) Doctor dad, when they get into a car accident and are each taken into a different faction of mutants.

Sounds familiar? It's because it's X-Men without any of the social commentary. I'm not even a big fan of X-Men, not because I don't find graphic novels to be a legitimate medium or because I don't like the stories, it's just that it bothers me that it's more acceptable to create a bunch of genetic mutants and illustrate how society marginalizes and mistreats them, while ignoring the struggles of actual minorities. But I digress, so back to the point: there is nothing even remotely original about Control.

Zelia meets her new mutant family: an all-knowing (in this case all-scenting) figure of authority, a guy with four arms, a guy with two heads, Poison Ivy (she goes by another name, but it's her), and the aforementioned psychopath with whom Zel will fall "in love". Perhaps I'm forgetting someone, I don't know, that's how unforgettable they all are.

Only two girls in the house, I'm thinking bff! And I'm thinking wrong. Vera immediately dislikes Zelia because she is a "female and [she] exist[s]. Probably an alpha female thing, like wolves or rats".

Not that Zelia is exactly the type of girl you'd want as a friend:
"I’m not shocked by the fact she’s wearing the latest fashion from Hookers-R-Us."

And I shouldn't be shocked at all the slut shaming at this point, yet... here I am.

Add to all this the fact that the writing is the most eye-roll inducing thing printed in recent times:
"He sits in the center of a round desk and computer screen that almost completely encircle him. On a happier day, I’d joke that he’s got a bad Saturn complex.

"I hate it when people call me a lady. I’m anything but, so it feels like an insult."

"That’s by legal fusion.” Hardly anyone calls it marriage anymore."

"I’ve just lost everything I’ve ever known and she’s getting all hydrochloric acid on me."

"The tiniest hint of a smile. It warms his slate eyes just a touch, like cold butter that softens after landing on warm toast."

"I can feel it in my neurons."


But then Zelia says something that made me stop and really think:

"My heart. It hurts."

This was familiar in its histrionic absurdity, and it made me like her for some reason... Why? Where had I seen those words before? Where? And then... it hit me.

Don't be fooled, though. Comparing Zelia to Lumpy Space Princess is an insult to LSP.
Profile Image for Liz Janet.
579 reviews383 followers
October 14, 2019
I was desperate to love this book, I wanted to hug it and love it, and share it with everyone that I met and tell them it was awesome, but it was not. BUT IT DEFINITELY IS NOT AT ALL A FORM OF X-MEN, THAT IS JUST OFFENSIVE TO THE X-MEN. A review I read said : “This was like… X-Men meets Graceling meets the future meets AWESOME.” You sir, are a liar.

“I can feel it in my neurons.” This is an actual line.

I don’t recommend this as a dystopian read, or a science-fiction read, but it is definitely a very bad romance, so if you like that, then this book is for you, I mean quite a lot of people like it, so I am on the opposite side.

Zelia aka Zel cannot breathe properly, she has to make an effort to remember to breathe, for some weird condition that I cannot remember the name of, yet she does not wear a necklace-like device that helps her because she does not like it, I guess she is self-conscious of it. You know what is a good thing to do about it? Breathing! Putting it on so you can breathe! And live!

Big question: Is there slut shaming in this book? Yes, the answer is yes, and it is done by the main character not only to another female, but also towards her sister, so fun. I believe in modesty, however that does in no way give me the right to have others follow my belief, nor discriminate or judge them for whatever it is they choose, and this is exactly what Zel does. She is “plain” and that makes her better than Vera and Dyl and whatever other girl that dares look good: “ I’m a total embarrassment. My refusal to wear makeup, nice shoes, or tight clothes. My penchant for getting excited over CellTech News, my favorite holo channel. My endless nagging about her flashy dresses and too-shiny lipstick.” Yes, you are an embarrassment, to females all over the world that are trying to gain some recognition, and to feminist for trying to push them back. “……she’s wearing the latest fashion from Hookers-R-Us….” It must be the lack of oxygen from not wearing her device causing such stupidity to roll off of her tongue.

The romance made me want to vomit frequently. I think more than the one in “Fallen” and “Hush, Hush.” He is an arse, a literal arse almost. He treats her like a beast, like “damaged goods”, and she is too idiotic to run the opposite direction. And then he saves her, and they kiss, and immediately :” Boyfriend is too limited a term for what Cy has become to me. Water? Oxygen? That might do.”

I also can’t decide if this line is misogynistic or transphobic, but it is straight up offensive: “I think you have a trait too. You’re a hermaphrodite. Because girl, you’ve got balls.”

And lastly, the world-building was lacking, quite a lot. we know states have seceded from the U.S. and are now sovereign states, there are uniform codes. Maybe she could have explained how something like that could have happened, but I don’t believe it would have been any good.

This book left a sour taste in my mouth, I will never read another of her books again.
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews176k followers
February 22, 2014
(3.5 stars)

I really enjoyed this book! The characters were very interesting and the story was nicely paced. The only problems I had was the world building and the character development. I had a hard time grasping the world and I felt like I was kind of thrown into it and expected to figure out everything on my own. I also think that it was hard to really care for any of the characters, because I didn't feel like I got to know them well enough in the beginning. Either way this book was really fun and I'm glad that I got the chance to read it! Definitely check it out if you get the chance. :)

ALSO Don't forget to join us (Polandbananasbooks, Katytastic, Elizziebooks, & ArielBissett) for a live show discussing CONTROL on Christine's channel tonight at 7 PM EST! https://www.youtube.com/user/polandba...
Profile Image for Steph Sinclair.
461 reviews11.1k followers
October 29, 2014
Absolutely terrible.

DNF at 57%. This is one of those times where I legitimately think I’ve read a different book that my friends. In theory, Control should have worked for me. I really loved the idea of a conspiracy and the secret being in Zel’s genes. I really thought these were great ideas and I was completely looking forward to reading about it. Then I started reading and my happy cat died.


Zel, our main protagonist, is constantly slut-shamming another girl named Vera, who is very shapely and has no issues with flaunting it. From the first time they met, Kang used a the common “slutty, mean girl” trope as Vera’s characteristic. I didn’t see this as anything else as a plot device to make Zel seem more spechul and spark sympathy from the reader. I already felt bad that Zel lost her dad and sister in the car crash (this isn’t a spoiler since it happens in the very first chapter), but when she constantly went around and said things like this, I was less and less inclined to root for her:
I’m not shocked by the fact that she’s wearing the latest fashion from Hookers-R-Us.

Insta-love with a terrible love interest

Zel almost immediately falls in love with the resident bad boy. I wouldn’t have had too much of a problem with that if he also wasn’t a dick to her. Like a HUGE dick. He’s rude to her and she continues to pine over him and make excuses for his behavior. Then later, he just happened to really care about her too, because of reasons.

I don’t know if things improved from there, but I was too disgusted to care.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
August 13, 2016
I couldn't even make it to the halfway mark. And apparently I would have only had slut-shaming and misogyny to look forward to. No thanks.
Profile Image for Jacob McCabe.
154 reviews47 followers
February 21, 2014
I just didn't like it.
Overused plot devices. X-Men concept (without the interesting abilities). Annoying characters (pretty much all of them). Very VERY slow plot. Terrible world building that didn't even make sense logically and I could never fully construct in my head. Unnecessary description. What felt to me as slut-shaming disguised in a YA book. Everything I don't like was a factor in this book, and therefore, it did not sit well with me, and it was a struggle to finish.

I will, however, say that it tried. And that's where it's stars come from.
Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.1k followers
February 24, 2014
This was a fun ride! I had two favourite aspects: 1) the focus on SCIENCE. A lot of the time science in books can feel really fake: I can tell that authors are just making things up.. and that's totally fine, but it felt really special in this book that the science felt reasonable and possible, and 2) the cast of characters! I genuinely really like the crew that we have here, and I look forward to seeing what happens to them in future books.

I did, of course, have some issues with this book too. My main problem was the writing: it felt very cheesy and juvenile. It was a little too-straight forward, and most importantly,it therefore felt that a lot of scenes were unimportant. I know that that not all books are about elaborate writing, that this book definitely focused more on the plot than the writing, but I felt that the writing was a hindrance. It didn't allow for settings or characters to be well developed and that was disappointing.

Overall though, it was a cool story with cool characters and I definitely want to pick up Book #2!
Profile Image for Giselle.
1,057 reviews908 followers
April 7, 2016
I really enjoyed this one. Mutations, saving someone you love? And the pacing was so fast I quickly devoured it. There's no surprise that the author is a doctor. Lots of scientific terms that just flew past my head lol
Profile Image for Colleen Houck.
Author 40 books8,982 followers
June 14, 2017
I love the futuristic setting and all the chemistry/medical descriptions. The different types of enhancements were wildly creative and cool! I think my favorite scenes were when vials were broken on enemies and you see the results. Scary and awesome. =)
Profile Image for Katie Walton.
220 reviews6 followers
January 3, 2014
Being the older sister comes with a lot of responsibility. Just ask Zelia! She's been catering to her little sis Dylia almost forever while their dad moves the family sporadically around the country doing some important but kind of mysterious science-y stuff. Lately Dylia has been growing up so fast Zel can hardly keep up but that's ok since their dad keeps an eye on everything. He might not be around a lot but he knows what is best and helps them make all of the important choices in life... until he isn't there anymore. Suddenly it is just Zel and Dyl versus the world... and that world is full of genetically mutated freaks with personal, corporate and political agendas. When Dylia is jerked away Zelia is willing to give up anything to rescue her kid sister.

There are a lot of pretty cool themes in this book:
Chosen Family/Birth Family
Foster Care
Dystopian Societies
Decision Making
Personal Growth

Control is Lydia Kang's first book, and definitely a worthy first addition to any teen sci-fi shelf.

A special thank you to Dial for the free advance reader copy! It was a pleasant read!
Profile Image for Krista.
66 reviews109 followers
March 7, 2015
Sounds like a YA book version of Gattaca...I'm in!!!


UPDATE 4/4/14

Lots of science in this one! Which is good for any science lover like me...

The romance was the highlight of the book. I love me some love-hate relationships and this has a pretty good one. No insta-love in sight!!! Oh, and...I so picture the end result of the book cover being something like this...

Profile Image for Mia.
15 reviews7 followers
August 19, 2013
I really enjoyed Control. It was a bit slow in the middle, but there was never a word that didn't contribute to the story. Once I got to the end, I simply could not put the book down, and when I finished, I just wanted more. Most of the books I've read this summer have really cheesy or obvious endings, but in my opinion, Control has the perfect bittersweet ending.

My favorite part of the book were the characters. In a way, they very much reminded me of those in Veronica Roth's Divergent (which is not a bad thing). The main character Zelia is a very reliable narrator, and she has the same solid goal throughout the whole book.
Profile Image for *Layali*.
572 reviews90 followers
January 27, 2018
I was NOT digging this book.

The main character, Zelia, is a complete moron. She's so judgmental and immature, it made me want to vomit all over my book. She's a complete bitch to the other female characters for how they dress and how they act around guys, but then does something ten times worse just a few pages later!

And then, the "humor" in this book was not humorous at all. It was borderline inappropriate and discriminatory. This line in particular really angered me:

"I think you have a trait too. You're a hermaphrodite. Because girl, you've got balls."

The story line was mediocre. I was never attached to any of the characters. I absolutely do not see the hype surrounding this book at all. And the ending with Zelia turning into a "badass" was completely unrealistic and worthy of numerous eye rolls.

It's a shame such a pretty cover was wasted on such crap.

I guess I just don't get the hype.
Profile Image for Tez.
846 reviews219 followers
August 26, 2017
Profile Image for Leigh Moore.
Author 23 books643 followers
Want to read
July 30, 2012
Squee!!! So awesome. Can't wait to read it! :o)
March 27, 2016
“Trust is essential when you're planning to lie to everyone you know.”

Yeah, girl, but the lying part? Totally not necessary.

The Gist: Zelia, a young biochemist, flees to a shadowy underworld of genetic mutants when her father, a brilliant geneticist, is killed in an "accident." However, Zel's sister, Dyl, is captured by another group of ruthless mutants, and Zel will do anything to get her sister back-- even betray her new friends.

Genre: Sci-fi (Dystopian, mutants)
"Cleanness": some violence, disturbing sexual content

The Review: I really wanted to like Control. It sounded really cool- Mutants, the future, cool technology? But no.

Control starts out palatable at first, but then devolves into some random "crap goes down" X-men knockoff packed to the brim with tropes, a lot of brain-hurting stupidity, and bad science. It's readable enough, but not recommended.

*mild spoilers throughout*
The beginning of the story is very, very cliche. There are two girls (the ugly duckling MC and her pretty, popular, and brainless tween sister) and a dad, and they're driving their hovering car thing, until someone crashes into it (which, we are informed, is virtually impossible) and seriously injures the dad. What happened to the mom, you might wonder? Well, apparently, she hated her family and then ditched them, then was "so happy she forgot to take her vaccines" and died of the flu. Well, that's either supposed to be intentionally fishy or just lame. (Have fun trying to count all the times I say "lame" in this review.) Anyway, the dad dies in an extremely cliche scene where he is croaking out mysterious instructions to ugly duckling Zel, but bam! dies before he can explain what all that cryptic crap means. At an orphanage where the sisters are sent, Dyl is spirited away by two characters with weird superpowers. One girl has poisonous skin, and the guy breathes weird hallucinatory drugs. (These are fairly easy to defeat. Simply shoot Poisonous Skin Girl before she can touch you, and hold your breath while dealing with LSD Breath Boy. It's not rocket science, people.)

Anyway, she meets a bunch of good mutants who reveal how *OMG Special* she is and her 100% useless superpower. I call it useless, because it's no good in a fight, and so she always has to get saved.

Long story short, the rest is an incoherent cocktail of The Hunger Games, Insurgent, and The Young Elites. These are pretty well-liked YA books, but the mixture causes confusion and a lot of facepalming. Zel wants to save her sister (Hunger Games), so she works out a covert deal with the evil mutants to SELL OUT HER OWN MUTANT BUDDIES for her sister (Young Elites). To get her sister back without turning traitor, she hatches a plan, but since everyone is worried for her, she lies to them and gets a major death wish to go in by herself and knock out her friends (Insurgent). And by the way, the enemy mutant she works out the deal with is really, REALLY HAWT. My brain hurt a bunch because I wanted to yell at Zel for even trusting that sketchy hot guy, Micah, because he seemed really sleazy, and also how she was willing to lie to everybody.

Start Rant:
OK, ever since The Young Elites, I have hated plots revolving around the character hiding things from friends. The thing is, it's hard to do right without making your MC look like a brainless and selfless jerk. Like, there were so many other ways Zel could have worked out a deal without LYING to all her friends. (You too, Adelina.) She should have TOLD them and not just have been a selfish little whiner who trusts sleazy hot guys.
//End rant.


The lead evil guy is two people kind of weirdly fused together, one guy and a teeny tiny little woman stuck to the guy's face. Because of course they're the villains b/c they're super ugly. Anyway, all the evil mutants do is figure out how to isolate and market superpowers. However, selling superpowers actually makes sense. Like Cy's superpower is to heal himself, it's already mentioned he isolated the gene that could reproduce the effect. If made available, it could, like, cure cancer and polio and HIV and stuff. It almost seems selfish to NOT give other people these potentially lifesaving products. Of course, since the evil people are evil, they kill mutants and stuff to get their powers if they don't cooperate, but the stuff they do seems more like it's supposed to CONVINCE the reader that the evil people are evil.

Zel is a Mary Sue, but the kind where they have absolutely zero self confidence in their smarts/looks. (They still get complimented on being beautiful and score good grades though, so...) She wears baggy clothing and constantly complains about how ugly she is in comparison to her sister, Dyl. Of course, she also think Dyl's enjoyment of beauty products and her circle of friends make her some kind of brainless blonde slut. That's not true! (OK, the brainless part is true, but not because good looks somehow correlate with being stupid.) Caring about appearances does not make a girl into some kind of sex addict. (And yes, her sister is a tween. But keep reading for the messed up part. It's in spoilers, BTW.) In addition, Zel has this disorder where she can't breathe without consciously thinking about it. But don't worry, she has a pendant that zaps her chest and makes it automatically expand and contract. Problem is, *independent* little Zel hates "the feeling" of... um... breathing "without my control." And of course, she never has the blasted pendant on whenever she's in a fight or anything, so she always goes unconscious from lack of oxygen at PRECISELY THE WRONG TIME and has to get saved from her own STUPIDITY. BECAUSE SHE HATES BREATHING.

Dyl has no personality or purpose as a character. Her only function is to be the brain-dead damsel in distress whose unconscious body is carted around by the evil peeps as some kind of OBJECT to barter with. The only thing she manages to do is fall in Stockholm syndrome love with Micah, the sleazy but HAWT enemy mutant who is, like, 5 years older than she is, and in one scene where Zel shows up, Dyl and Micah are making out. (She's 13, he's, like, 18. And the messed up part doesn't end there.) It's pretty obvious that Micah is just using Dyl, and Dyl's little tween brain is too needy and dumb to figure it out. And here's the messed up part.

Cy, Zel's love interest, has a pretty cool superpower, super fast healing. Only problem is, this is Cy.

Like, he follows Ryan Higa and Sean Fujiyoshi's "How to be Emo" down to the letter. He broods. He enjoys pain. In fact, (I am not making this up) he uses his powers to break down tattoo ink so he can make himself new emo tattoos EVERY DAY. They often consist of gore and screaming people. So. Lame. I can't even.

The other nice mutants are cool, I guess, but totally forgettable. I mixed them up a lot. The only good character in the book was Mirka (I think that's her name), the mother figure.

Superpower science is kind of lacking in this book. In this one scene where Zel uses the isolated mutant gene juice stuff on evil mutants, the effect is instant. Science doesn't work that way, folks. Also, Zel's power is immortality, because her DNA is in loops. How is that supposed to work?

Some of the world building ideas are cool, like the club scene, but the rest is underdeveloped or weird. The weird is that Mirka has a gas-powered ground car, or "char." The "h" serves no purpose except to make it sound like what happens when you leave the toast in the toaster too long. Anyway, the "not there" was that the future US has very weak federal government, and all the states (which have weird names like "Inky") have their own rules. That was only brought up once.

The ending sucked.

Conclusion: Tolerable, but a mess of tropes and nonsense.
Profile Image for Alicia Batista (Addicted Readers).
256 reviews507 followers
December 31, 2013

Control has been one of my most anticipated books of the year, so when I was offered a review copy I jumped at the opportunity to read it! And I must say, Control did not disappoint. It's was great Science fiction/Dystopian book, and the perfect one to end my year off with a bang!

I loved the Science aspect of Control, even though it got to be very confusing after a while. All the science and technical wording was a lot to take in and understand. And the science fiction part was the main world building. Everything plotted around the science aspect, and how it can be manipulated and used to enhance human abilities. It was definitely different then anything I've ever read, and that's one of the main reasons why I enjoyed Control the most. It was new, and not something I have read before. Granted, the science aspect, children being born with strange powers/deformities, is not a first. But how many science fiction books have you read that has kids sprouting 4 arms, 2 heads, and green skin? None that I can think of! Now, add that into the dystopian setting, and a corrupt agency, and race to rescue the one you love, and you have one heck of an adventure!

This book will keep you on your toes, and you have to really pay attention if your going to understand what's going on in the book. And I liked that, it was great to have to stay firmly engrossed in the plot, and have to get everything it offers to understand what going on.

I'll admit, the beginning wasn't my favorite part of the book. It felt like it dragged a little, but it quickly picks up after Zel and Dyl are separated. And when it did, it was in full force plot driven!

The Plot...

The book starts with a bang, Zelia, her sister Dylia, and her father are quickly packing up to move for the umpteenth time. But when the unthinkable happens...The world they once new is shattered, and their strong trio is separated!

When Zel & Dyl's father is killed in a horrible magpod accident, the truth is revealed, and what their father is really capable of, and what he's really been hiding from them, comes for them! After Dyl is kidnapped by people with strange abilities, Zel is forced to grow up and face the truth. What she's always known is a lie...And her father is not the man she thought she knew! The truth will turn her world upside down, and tear her remaining family apart!

Zel is rescued from New Horizons just in time and taken to a safe house to hide from her sisters captures. But when Zel arrives she meets teens that aren't like any she's ever meet. Kids with 4 arms, 2 heads, and green skin is only the tip of the iceberg of what Zel is about to face! She is not giving up, and she is determined to get her sister back safe and sound, no matter the cost...But Zel never could of thought that to get her sister back, she would have to sacrifice one love, for another. Is Zel ready to face them kind of choices? And when the time comes, will she be able to choose between her sister, and the boy she's come to love???

So what you think? Sound amazing right??? It was! I thoroughly enjoyed Control, though I wish the Science aspect was broken down, and explained a little easier. But that was easy to overlook, with the fast-paced, action-packed, romanced-fill amazing plot, that will keep you reading until the wee hours of the morning, and still have you craving for more!!

You want a different kinda read that will keep you glued to the very last page??? Well this is it, Control will do that and more!! A perfect book to end my year off with right!!!

Thank you Dial for sending me a ARC copy to review! All opinions express are my own, and are not influenced in any way!

Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,242 followers
May 10, 2017
Xmen in Pride and Prejudice form? How cool! If I had known that this book was a sci-fi P&P, I would have read it a long time ago, since that is my favorite book ever! But, I was thrown off by so many negative reviews and the fact that nobody seemed to mention it. I had a great time finding all of the Pride and Prejudice nuggets in the book. Such as:

The names:
Main Character - Zelia Benson. Zelia is an anagram for Eliza - Elizabeth Bennett.
Sister - Dylia - Anagram for Lydia, Elizabeth's sister in P&P
Love Interest - Cy, short for Cyrad - Anagram for Darcy. They also have a nickname for him, Mr. Fix Himself, or "Fix-William", since William is his last name. Lol! Fitzwilliam is Darcy's last name in P&P.
Then of course, there is Michah Kw - his last name is actually Kw. Very convenient so that the letters can be an anagram to make the word Wickham.

When Wilbert is showing Zelia the school, she walks up to the bookshelves and tries to pull out a copy of Pride and Prejudice, but it is just a hologram.

Later, when Zelia hears Cy reading a book to Ana, it is an excerpt from Pride and Prejudice, Darcy's monologue where he talks about his dissatisfaction with the world. (pg 170) His sister says, "That's like you... you don't like anybody"

Story similarities:
Upon meeting, Zylia and Cy have a bad first impression and Zylia overhears him talk bad about her.

"I don't know why Marka dragged her here. She's worse than ordinary."

But, then she goes on to prove that she is smarter and stronger than he had thought.
Next, they are going out to a club to dance. She invites him along.

"I don't dance," he blurts. The words are heavy in the air, hiding more than he lets on. As if he meant to say "I don't dance with girls like you."

When Cy tells Zylia about Micah, it turns out that they had lived together when they were younger and were best friends, but Micah ran off with his sister.

There is another very Darcy monologue toward the end, but I don't want to give that one away.

Obviously, my point is.... this book is sooooo Pride and Prejudice! I had a lot of fun reading it. I do know that a lot of people had criticism over the fact that the main character seemed to slut-shame, but I didn't really see it that way. It seemed like she was more like self-conscious of her under-developed body and wanted to cover it up. It didn't seem like she was looking down on the girls who were dressed in less because she was always complimenting them and saying that she wished that she had a body like theirs.
It's Vera, lying on her back on an outdoor chaise. There is nothing but green skin, green breasts, and a white thong. I'm speechless. And envious. Geez, she looks like a lingerie model.

Anyway, I really loved the book and can't wait for the next one! I hope it still goes along with the P&P theme because there were many other characters that never made it into this book (Mr. Collins would be funny). But, it would also be cool if it changed over to Sense and Sensibility or Emma, or something else Austen! :)
Profile Image for Jay.
514 reviews368 followers
February 3, 2016
4.5/5 stars.

Control by Lydia Kang was my book of the month for November. I went into it being a bit wary of the campaigning on the back of the book that promised a "ROMANTIC READ" and that usually brings up red flags in that the book will mostly center around the romance, but Control exceeded my expectations by a mile. After its slow beginning, I couldn't put the book down. The plot line, the characters, and all the mystery behind everything going on was so engaging and interesting, something I don't say often in regards to the current science fiction YA books.

Zel, the older sister who ended up with a dead father and a younger sister that got kidnapped, was an action kind of girl. She didn't dwell on her misery and what has happened to her or blame anyone for her situation, she got down to business. I love female protagonists like that; Ones that take matters into their own hands and don't need anyone to depend on. Zel's volunteer lab hours were of use to her when she finds herself in a safe house full of strange looking people… genetically enhanced people, and she's told that Dyl is one of them. She gets down to business trying to figure out what Dyl's trait is and this is where all the science terminology are incorporated. I loved reading about all DNA extraction and analysis, it is such fascinating stuff! The author being a practicing physician gave this part of the plot authenticity that is hard to replicate in other books.

Character wise, the people at Zel's safe house were all amazing. I loved every single one of them and thought they were such a neat group of people.. with super human abilities of course. One in particular, yes the love interest, fascinated me the most. I loved how Kang put some flesh onto his character.. he wasn't just a designated love interest but had actual history and issues that we get a glimpse of. I loved how distant he was in the beginning (bad boys… I can't help but love you), and I loved how realistic their relationship progressed. Cy is definitely a worthy love interest to be remembered.

Control is a book full of all types of action that there was never a dull moment. I tried reading the book any chance I got and would get totally immersed into the world Zel was in. It pains me that I need to wait more than a year to pick up the sequel. This is a great (superb!) start to a sci-fi series and I can't wait to get back into Zel's world. Also, since this is the end of the year, I wanted to mention that Control is my favorite Penguin book I've read this year, and I've read a ton. What more can I say to make you pick this book up?
Profile Image for Erin Arkin.
1,686 reviews357 followers
October 27, 2013
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.
Profile Image for Christina (Ensconced in Lit).
984 reviews287 followers
September 7, 2013
I received this ARC from Penguin publishing in exchange for an honest review. I award this book 3.5 stars.

I've been dying to get my hands on this ARC because to my knowledge, it's the first YA medical thriller written by a bona fide physician. This is the kind of book I've always personally wanted to write, and so I was excited to see what Kang did with it. Overall, I think this is a strong first novel.

Control by Lydia Kang is the first in a trilogy about Zelia trying to find her sister, Dylia (yes, the names rhyme, but Kang admits that in the text). Dylia is coveted for her genetic code-- there's something about her that is extremely special, and after they become orphaned, they are torn apart. Zel ends up in a house full of disfigured misfits, some with two heads, some with more arms, you get the picture. Cy is an angry member of this house, who Zel can't help but simultaneously be attracted and angered by. Can Zel figure out how to save her sister in time?

What I loved about this book: I loved that the science was accurate, and the ideas were sound. I love the twist that Kang reveals later, which I won't say too much about, but it scientifically makes sense. It's rare to see that accuracy in YA, and I love it. I thought the book was fast paced and had a lot of great ideas. I enjoyed a lot of the side characters including Marka, Wilbert, and Hex. There is a ton of world building in this book, and it's completely ambitious for a first book. I don't think I'd be brave enough to write it, but I'm glad Lydia did.

What I had issues with: one of my big issues, which will also be a problem with my own writing if I ever get to write a dystopian science fiction novel. While the science is sound, I found that scenes when she was in the lab dragged. Which is actually kind of amusing, because I'm doing DNA extraction right now in my lab, and it's pretty boring too. Not sure how you can make that sexy. But sometimes it got to be too much. Also, I felt that a lot of the main characters were either too one dimensional (the bad guy is baaaad). And sometimes, I felt that the main character seemed to go from being 12 to 40 years old back and forth. I also didn't quite understand why she needed to have Ondine's curse. I suppose we may learn about its importance later. Finally, I don't feel like I had a clear delineation of her personal arc. Things happened, but I'm not sure exactly what she learned from them.

Overall, I think this was a very ambitious novel, and Kang does have the chops to write. It wasn't a perfect novel, but I'll be continuing on in the journey as I suspect that each book will be better than the last.
Profile Image for Heather.
1,016 reviews92 followers
October 24, 2015
This is a unique, interesting, fast-paced story that takes place in 2150. A lot has changed in the world with automatic cars, auditory drugs, and people with genetic oddities (super-fast healing, four arms, two heads, and so on). It’s a very unique story in a very unique setting. Things I found at least remotely amusing were things like their calling cars “chars.”

Zel is an interesting character whom I found it easy to like. Once her sister is taken, she goes from timid, meek girl to tigress. She’s done not speaking out, not doing what needs to be done, not making waves. Her connection to Cy seemed … too quick. Too easy. Too predictable. And it was too deep too soon. But, I still like them together.

Control by Lydia Kang is full of surprising twists and turns, as well as heartbreaking stories. Some of these kids’ experiences are so sad. But there’s also hope. The book ends with the promise of much more to come, and I can’t wait to see what that is!
Profile Image for Jane.
143 reviews
March 1, 2014
Wow. I loved this way more than I expected.


I liked him the moment Zelia talked about the smell of his shirt. HA. Go ahead and call me weird. It's been a while since I read a book about so I really enjoyed it. The only thing I didn't like was that there was ANOTHER stubborn heroine that "sacrificed" themselves for the "greater good". Is that the only type of heroine for dystopians? Oh and some things were cliche as always. For example, Cy's choice at the end of the book. I still liked the book overall. So yes, if you're hesitating on whether to read it or not, read it.

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