Friday, December 20, 2013

Me on Control

Title: Control
Author: Lydia Kang
Release Date: December 26, 2013
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

When a crash kills their father and leaves them orphaned, Zelia knows she needs to protect her sister, Dylia. But before Zel has a plan, strangers appear with 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.

Control is dangerous and deceptive, a search for the truth in our genetic makeup and a mission to save family. But it's not that easy for Zel, her world soon becomes secretive, confining. Controlling. Despite being blocked at every turn, she still looks for the truth, but what is the truth? What will she do when she discovers it?

Zel is flawed and frail, the kind of girl who would surely become the unlikely hero of this book. She's a one-track mind kind of girl, thinking only of her sister and how she can save her. She's also battling (in a sense) against the residents of her hew home, trying to crack their shells and discover their secrets because she's been kept in the dark about why Dyl was taken and who they all are. But they're all tight-lipped, especially the intelligent angry guy who constantly glares at Zel whenever they're in the same room. She won't stop, though. Finding Dylia is too important.

Now, I will say first that I don't know a lot about genetics, I never studied it, but the science all sounded rather sound, plausible by science fiction's rules. I was willing to put my faith in the author's background when it came to all the talk of genetic manipulation, willing to believe that in the future, with the right knowledge and advances in technology, a lot of what Zel discovers could be possible.

Are there mistakes or accidents? Are the gifts of the teens Zel meets genetic quirks, or aren't they? If they are mistakes, what mistakes they are, and the lengths people went through to keep them hidden from the rest of the world are astounding. But if they aren't, if they were created on purpose, if there are no such thing as accidents, who created them? Why? What isn't Zel being told?

There's a moment where Zel apologizes for being selfish in her search for Dyl and I found myself not wanting her to apologize. She wants her sister back, she wants her family back, she's willing to do what it takes to get information. I don't blame her for acting the way she does, so focused and driven. After their father's death, all she has is Dylia. She craves what's familiar to her to provide comfort and support, and only Dyl can give her that. Of course, her apologizing means she's acknowledging that she's too focused on saving Dyl, means she's aware, but I would've been happy without the apology.

One of the shining moments of the book, besides Zel and her intelligence, is the science. It provides a technical feel, a serious tone, but also a bit of plausibility. Actual science is slightly tweaked, slightly twisted, by the author. It's still science fiction right now, but there's that possibility of it one day perhaps moving past fiction into fact that gives it weight. The knowledge that this is the first in a series also gives it weight, the weight of waiting for the next book.

(I was given an advance copy of this title from another book blogger.)

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