Control | Lydia Kang | Book Review

I am going to state right now that I am a tiny bit surprised at how much I enjoyed Control by Lydia Kang. This is not to say that I went into the book expecting to hate it, far from it. Yet I had read a few reviews that made me kind of apprehensive. ALSO! Control does start off kind of slowly, but you guys, once I got into it, it took me two days to whip through all 400 pages. FYI those are pages of things that typically don’t appeal to me — science, mutants, DNA, experiments, future technology. There’s a really interesting story and world in Kang’s debut novel, one that really grabbed hold of my magpie-esque attention span. Friends, if you do not have this on your TBR list quite yet, I will let you take a break from reading this review to go add it. 

Control by Lydia Kang | Good Books And Good Wine

Zelia has moved around the States which are basically their own provinces all her life with her little sister Dyl and her doctor father. Usually there is a few days notice before moving. This time, however, Zelia has just hours to get ready to go. On their way to a new life, a terrible accident happens leaving Zel and Dyl orphans. The two end up in the system — which FYI sucks — and separated. Dyl has been “adopted” by a group of shady characters known as Aureus. Zel, on the other hand, has been placed in a group home. However, it is not your average group home. You see, it’s actually a state of the art building housing people who you might see as mutants, aka people who have been genetically altered and now have special traits or powers. This home is run by a woman named Marka who is a kind soul with the ability to smell emotions. Although Zel is strongly focused on getting her sister back, she finds herself growing more and more attracted to one of the guys in the home, Cy, a dude who basically has magically regenerating skin and a lot of tattoos that keep on changing. Will Zelia put everything on the line to save Dyl?  What secrets was dear old Dad hiding? You’ll have to pick up Kang’s Control to find out. But trust, you are going to want to know.

I’ll be honest and say that Zel kind of weirded me out at first. I think she’s like 16 but she wasn’t really developed and she didn’t have her period yet — even though her little sister Dyl had hers and also seems to have hit puberty. In the end though, I liked Zel and rooted for her. She just is brainy and so fricken hard working. If you guys are bored of lazy characters (not that I come across those a lot) you will love Zel. She is motivated. She’s also quite dynamic. She starts the book unsure of herself with no confidence in her abilities. She also thinks she is ugly. She is a goody two shoes. By the end up the book, she’s kind of a girl on fire and you guys, I loved it and you might love it too. Like, I just wanted to clap by the end.

YOU GUYS YOU GUYS YOU GUYS! I am like filled to the brim with romance excitement here. You know how we all have our different preferences for romance and love and how it unfolds in books? Like we each have certain tropes that we are into? WELL MINE IS HERE! The love hate trope! Omg! I LOVE IT! I know I sound insipid right now, but y’all, I just loved how there was this fierce sort of antagonism between Zel and Cy at first, but then, ah, it develops into something totally adorable and ship-worthy and just, YAY! Let me just say that the kiss scenes are spot-on. That’s all you really need to know, right?

Kang’s world building had me disengaged at first, but as I began to understand the world, I really got into the different states and their specific style of ruling. I loved how this book felt like it could really do the trick for X-Men fans. I loved that the mutant kids weren’t weirdos, but basically normal. The technology in the book is pretty neat too — from the different modes of transportation, to Holos, to food machines. Kang really creates a unique future. In all, I probably should have hated this book but you guys omg I LOVED IT. And I hope you love Control too. IDK about y’all, but I am just going to sit here on my pins and needles for Catalyst, ahhhh. <—- that ahhh is pretty much the entire summation of my excitement.

Disclosure: Review Copy Provided

Other reviews of Control by Lydia Kang:

Eater Of Books – “This book is so complex!
Step Into Fiction – “this book is fantasically amazing

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. This book! I have seen approximately one review of it now and am still pending on it on NG, haha. Since I like a lot of the things you mentioned (yey science!) I’m even more excited now 😀

  2. I’ve seen this book around but this is the first review of it it that I’ve seen. I’m really loving the sound of it and I’m really happy to see that you enjoy it so much!

  3. YAY! I’m so glad that you loved this one, April! It’s especially awesome that you usually wouldn’t like science fiction, but you really liked this one. I love it when that happens!

    I definitely agree that in the beginning, I wasn’t sold on Zel’s character. In general, she’s really strange, and I didn’t like her personality. But she really grew in this book, and that helped with my estimation of her.

    The romance was FANTASTIC! I’m really happy that THAT aspect was well-done, because I do enjoy a good romance! And in a hardcore science-y book? Even better! 😀

    Fabulous review, April! I’m so happy that you really liked Control 🙂

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    P.S. Thank you so much for linking to my review! <3

  4. I’ll be honest and say that it was certainly this cover that first drew me to Control. But based on how it sounds in your review, I really want to read it! I love that you enjoyed the story and the romance, and that you liked the main character. I’m definitely going to have to look into checking this one out more.

  5. Oh god, your review makes me even more excited to start reading this tonight! My e-library let me check it out this morning. I’ve had it on the waitlist for forever. I was also a bit apprehensive about it after reading some reviews. But I am a science nerd so your review makes me believe I will definitely love it. Thanks for the great review!

  6. I also do love the hate-turning-into-love romantic trope. I’m not a huge fan of most romances in YA books, but Kang developed this one so well and so believably. It made me happy haha. I found myself quite surprised by this one as well – it contains aspects that for me also aren’t super appealing, but it worked. This book is definitely one that needs to be read and better promoted.

  7. Hmmm, I heard early on this was good and then didn’t hear anything else. Mixed reviews, you say? You had me a little worried, but tbh I got to the romance paragraph and I wants it for sure. Like, hello, fierce antagonism turning into shippy adorableness? UM THIS IS WHAT I LIVE FOR (said in Ursula voice).