BOOK REVIEW: Control

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Some time ago I had just finished a fairly heavy read and tweeted for suggestions for a light easy going book to fill the gap between this and the next heavy read. Kim Curran, who I had met previously, suggested I give her book a read. This raised the age old problem, what do you say to someone you know if their book is, you know, not very good.

Luckily Shift, Kim’s debut novel was immensely enjoyable and although fairly easy to get through was not a light weight book. The central tenant of the book is the power of shifting – the ability to undo a decision. The power is only possessed by children as it tends to fade as adulthood approaches. Scott Tyler is a teen who has no idea he can shift until he does so involuntarily to save his own life. Aubrey Jones, works for ARES, an organisation that monitors and regulates shifters and has been dispatched to bring him in. And so begins the story which sees Scot’s life turned upside down.

Although variations of ‘shifting’ can be seen in several sci-fi staples, the way that Curran presents it here makes it feel fresh. Descriptions of shifting combat in particular are exciting in concept and execution.

So it was with great excitement, yes actual excitement that I sat down to read the sequel Control. If work had not got in the way I would have finished it in 2 days but as it is I got through it in 3 sittings.

This book continues on from the traumatic ending of Shift and takes Scott Tyler and friends to new levels of discombobulation. Ostensibly Control serves to expand and explore the outer reaches of the ‘shifting’ ability and its consequences. At the end of Shift we get a hint of what a shifter could be capable of and this book is a wonderful cementing of the world building that began in Shift.

I should say that I am deliberately staying away from describing the storyline here as it would be far to easy to spoil some of the more esoteric elements of this book.

If there’s anything I don’t like its probably the cover but I guess the book isn’t being marketed for me, which I find odd because I loved it. The maze of Young Adult publication is still a bit of a mystery to me so I’ll just leave that there. Despite this, the characters are very easy to get immersed with and when Scott makes some odd decisions and enacts some awful strategies, you are reminded of his age and it all fits together quite well.

Control is more than a simple exercise in creative calisthenics though. The book is horrible in places, distressing in others and heart warming in still others. I cried a little in one part and spent the entire experience in a state of suspense, a state in some ways created by the very nature of shifting which meant that you were never quite sure what was coming next, or indeed if what had just happened had ever happened. This is a well paced thriller with elements of paranoid conspiracy and just enough quantum level scifi to make it a book of beautiful conundrums!

Control is published by Strange Chemistry Books and Kim Curran can be found at kimcurran.co.uk

GS reporter:Monts

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