Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Source: ARC from Netgalley and Strange Chemistry
Rating: 5 STARS
Publication Date: 6 August 2013 (Seriously, get it).
Blurb: Official burb: 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.
Things to get out of the way first:
An unequivocal five star rating. This book was amazing! I got an excellent first impression, what a gorgeous cover! It literally took me through the ringer, and I FELT ALL THE FEELS.
(Slightly more professional) Review
It really had everything I look for in a book. I think sci-fi, fantasy and YA fans will love it – actually, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t. The nearest thing I can compare it to is Jumper (another amazing one) or the ending of Catching Fire. You know that last line of Catching Fire, the one that turned readers into a ball of nerves? Yep, same in Control.
The main character, Scott Tyler, is fascinating. He’s daring, loyal and absolutely adorable as a male protagonist. His girlfriend and fellow Shifter, Aubrey, is as kickass and sassy as you can get, and it was incredible. And there’s a particular event that happens where Aubrey thinks he’s betrayed her, and his reaction actually made me cry. Me. I often mentally cry at books, but there were literally tears. I thought I’d conditioned myself against that, but this book really got under my defences.
The characterisation with the other characters was fantastic too. I especially loved Jake’s tech skills and Rosale’s fierceness when she thinks Scott hurt Aubrey. The relationship was THE BEST. There’s one scene – one of my favourites – where Scott is thoroughly beat up, basically wishing he could die (much as you feel for the protagonist, don’t you just love those moments? There’s just so much raw emotion and pathos. It’s beautiful.) and Aubrey, who he thought would never speak to him again, comes and gets him out of it. The moment he realises who it is is heart-warming. She hasn’t forgiven him (she doesn’t know yet that it wasn’t his fault) but she thought he was going to do something stupid, and she came and got him out of it. I don’t know why, but this scene just really struck a chord with me. It’s plain to see that he really cares for her, and I loved it so much.
Is it possible for a book to be too intense? There were an inordinate amount of moments when a lightbulb went on in my head, saying that the scene/character/dialogue was just too much to handle. I’m used to, and expect, a book having some of these moments. But this one just had it all.
Shifting – altering reality by changing your decisions – would be such a difficult concept to pull off. But Kim Curran did it flawlessly. She did it by imposing limitations on the power – it can only be a decision you considered different choices for, you can’t undo a Shift... It was simply really skilfully written, and I powered through it.
There were very few things that I didn’t like. I felt a bit cheated by the MEGA CLIFFHANGER ending (see Catching Fire reference above), but that was only because I was so engrossed in the story and the amazing characters that I didn’t want to let go. Plus, I’ve really come to care for Scott, and the way the book ended it seems very likely that it’s going to go Mockingjay-esque, meaning no punches pulled and my poor, poor favourite protagonists being put through ever worse situations. There was one section in the middle where I was very confused about location, but it’s not that important for your enjoyment of the story.
Objectively, it was still amazing. It had the quick-firing plot, snappy dialogue and grabbing characters that melded together to make a brilliant novel. And even when it was tense and fast-paced, it was hilarious. The dialogue managed to be authentic and still have humour. There’s even a secret government department (with a motto!) which always helps.
The action scenes at the end were thrilling, terrifying and awe-inspiring in equal measures. Scott pulls off some stunts that are truly worthy of a YA hero, and these last scenes were written like an action movie, and I mean that in the best possible way. The high-octane chases and shattering glass were so vivid.
It was so well thought-out. Scott and co. are Shifters, so they’re used to planning out every decision, But when they go up against a certain person, they don’t realise how many other choices are changing, and how impacted the world will be. It means an ending that the first-person protagonist doesn’t understand, which makes it very jarring. But that was admirably effective in communicating the message that choices have far-reaching consequences. There are details – the ‘hypnic jerk’ being an excellent example – in abundance, and the author has obviously really imagined the connotations of this world she’s created.
Not only was I able to appreciate the obvious writing talent Curran has, it was a really enjoyable read too. From other reviews I’ve seen, it seemed like this book is better than the first in the series, Shift. Nevertheless, I’ve still ordered the first one, because I haven’t enjoyed a book this much in months. I give this my highest recommendation – coming out in August, this is definitely one to be added to your Autumn TBR list!Links:
Thanks to Strange Chemistry for the ARC!