Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Control by Kim Curran

Control by Kim Curran is the sequel to Shift which I reviewed last year. I also recently posted an interview with the author to celebrate the launch of this book. You can read it here (and if you're reading this before the end of August, you can also enter to win copies of Shift and Control). Incidentally, if you haven't read the first book, I suggest you do before reading Control, as it's really the kind of series that requires linearity. The blurb from Goodreads:
Scott Tyler is not like other teenagers. With a single thought he can alter reality around him. And he can stop anyone else from doing the same.

That's why he's so important to ARES, the secret government agency that regulates other kids like him: Shifters.

They've sent him on a mission. To track down the enigmatic Frank Anderson. An ex-Shifter who runs a project for unusual kids - as if the ability to change your every decision wasn't unusual enough. But Anderson and the kids have a dark secret. One that Scott is determined to discover.

As his obsession with discovering the truth takes him further away from anyone he cares about, his grip on reality starts to weaken. Scott realises if he can't control his choices, they'll control him.
Control opens with Scott and Aubrey cleaning up the mess they uncovered at the end of the first book, tracking down the people who had been involved in a dodgy operation they uncovered. In the course of events, they (well mostly Scott, since Aubrey can't remember past timelines) uncover bigger problems with the state of the world. And being super-powered teenagers, of course they try to fix them. And by-golly does this one have an excellent ending. (Consequences: they are things that exist.)

One of my major qualms with Shift was that it was not complex enough in terms of taking advantage of the crazy stuff that could be done with changing timelines. Control does a much better job of this. There is much more weird and slightly confusing (in a good way) stuff going on. In the first book a lot of the focus was on Scott's shifting abilities but in Control, because he can remember past timelines, other people's shifts come into play with much more significance. I appreciated the added complexity. (A possible trade-off is there were two small continuity errors which bugged me a little but which weren't important enough to ruin the story for me.)

The new villain was much better than the first book's villain, partly because being fat wasn't part of their evil ick factor and partly because there were (eventually) shades of grey to their choices. And I do like me some shades of grey. Also the nature of the villain allowed the author to introduce some interesting minor characters with unique shifting abilities or quirks, which helped to flesh out that aspect of the world-building.

One of these minor characters was trans and while their situation was definitely interesting, it was also problematic and might annoy some readers. I don't feel qualified to comment further, but you have been warned.

Overall, Control was a fun, action-packed read. I enjoyed it more than the first book and I would definitely recommend it to readers who enjoyed Shift. I am eagerly awaiting the final book in the series, which should be out next year.

4 / 5 stars

First published: August 2013, Strange Chemistry
Series: Yes. Book 2 of 3 (sequel to Shift, prequel to Delete)
Format read: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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