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Cover image for Control

New York, New York : Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, [2013]
Physical Description:
395 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Sequel: Catalyst.
In 2150, when genetic manipulation has been outlawed, seventeen-year-old Zelia must rescue her kidnapped sister with the help of a band of outcasts with mutated genes.
Electronic Access:


Call Number

On Order



For fans of Uglies comes a spiraling, intense sci fi thriller.

"Control blew me away. The twists and turns and suspense made for a thrilling ride. Zel is as authentic a character as I've read in a very long time. Highly recommended" - James Dashner, New York Times bestselling author of The Maze Runner

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.

When their overprotective father is killed in a terrible accident, Zel and her younger sister, Dylia, are lost in grief. But it's not until strangers appear, using bizarre sensory weapons, that the life they had is truly eviscerated. Zel ends up in a safe house for teens that aren't like any she's ever seen -- teens who, by law, shouldn't even exist. One of them -- an angry tattooed boy haunted by tragedy -- can help Zel reunite with her sister.

But only if she is willing to lose him.

Author Notes

Lydia Kang is a doctor who decided writing was maybe just as much fun as medicine, so, now she does both. She is the author of Control and Catalsyt . She lives with her husband and three children in Omaha, Nebraska.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-Control is another in a long line of dystopian novels. In Kang's world set in 2150, humans with strange mutations are created and then cast out of society but survive in secret. Zelia; her sister, Dyl; and their father are on the move again. After a horrific accident in which their father is killed, the sisters find themselves at New Horizons where Micah promises them that everything will be okay. The next morning Dyl is abducted, and Zelia meets her foster mother, Marka. It seems that Marka was a friend of Zelia's dad and has a safe house for children born with aberrations. Zelia doesn't know whether to trust Marka or Micah, but she desperately wants to find her sister and get her back. At Marka's house, Zelia meets an odd assortment of kids with various deformities but also extraordinary gifts. One of her new housemates, Cy, eventually becomes a love interest. The story is extremely confusing because the technologies that allow the characters to do extraordinary things are not logical and some are rooted in advanced medical techniques that seem preposterous. Far better choices are Veronica Roth's Divergent and Lauren Oliver's Delirium (both HarperCollins, 2011). Kang's novel is so far from reality and so convoluted that it is hard to accept.-Elizabeth Kahn, Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology Academy, Jefferson, LA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Kang's medical bona fides are on display in this SF debut. In a near-dystopian future, states have consolidated, education is via online holo, and people live under the agriplane, an elevated platform where crops are grown. Zelia, 17, and her younger sister, Dyl, move from state to state with their father's work, never getting attached to any one place. After being orphaned by a freak accident, Zelia and Dyl are thrown into a foster system that tears them apart when they are claimed by rival "safe houses" that either shelter or take advantage of "illegal" children who have been genetically altered. Zel must negotiate a relationship with her new family, including a four-armed boy and a girl who's part plant, and rescue her sister from a nightmare world of drugs and sexual exploitation. With a lot of world-building to chew on in the first half, the story comes close to bogging down, but it quickens as Zelia comes into her own, using her scientific education and strengths she never knew she had. A sweet, edgy romance rounds out this smart, futuristic medical thriller. Ages 12-up. Agent: Eric Myers, the Spieler Agency. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

After their father dies in an accident, sisters Zel and Dylia are sent to different foster homes. Zel's new foster siblings, all of whom have illegal genetic mutations, are the only people who can help her rescue her sister and unravel her family's secrets. This futuristic sci-fi thriller's world-building is solid, and complex, nuanced characters will satisfy fans of speculative fiction. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

A teenage scientist struggles to rescue her abducted sister in Kang's debut novel. After their father dies from injuries sustained in a freak accident, Zelia and her younger sister, Dylia, are left orphaned in a dystopian future America. They've scarcely begun to grieve when they are violently separated: Dylia is kidnapped by strangers who want to profit from her DNA, while Zelia ends up in Carus House, an underground organization that shelters people whose genetic mutations make their very existence illegal. A student of molecular biology, Zelia soon begins her own analysis of Dylia's DNA, hoping it holds the key to saving her. She also finds herself drawn to Cyrad, a brooding Carus House resident. Their steamy, romantic relationship raises the stakes of the story, but it's also a little disturbing: Zelia may be 17, but she's a late bloomer who hasn't matured sexually. Throughout the novel, Kang's scrupulous attention to scientific detail adds authenticity but also contributes to the uneven pace; the middle portion feels especially slow after the action-packed opening. The novel works as a stand-alone, but the ending leaves the door open to a sequel. This humdrum addition to an overcrowded field is for die-hard dystopia fans only. (Dystopian suspense. 12-18)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

In case you were wondering, yes, bad boys are still the number-one lust objects of 2150. This snark-laden entry into the sigh-fi canon follows 17-year-old Zel after her father dies, leaving her and her 13-year-old sister, Dyl, orphaned. Dyl has a trait that's future-speak for a mutant ability and she's kidnapped by villains who plan to use her trait for their own moneymaking devices. Zel, meanwhile, is taken off the grid to Carus House, where a motley gang of mutants (one is part plant, one has two heads, and so on) endeavor to help Zel get her sister back. From Zel's first comment of What a jerk, we know she's about to fall for the skin-regenerative Cy, and Kang wastes no time placing the teens in half-dressed situations. The relentless modern slang makes this feel more like 2013 than 2150, but Kang compensates with imaginative cultural details (an ecstasy-like drug carried by sound) and impressive specificity regarding genetics. The use of mutants alone is fairly unique, making this a smart go-to for fans of Megan Shepherd's The Madman's Daughter (2013).--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist