Kim Curran’s Shift was one of my favourite books of 2012, and one of my favourite YA novels ever. With ‘Control’ she delivers more of the same. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that if you haven’t read Shift, you shouldn’t read any further (but in any case, buy both books, you won’t regret it).
Scott Tyler, having escaped certain death is now on the hunt for the other victims of the mysterious project Ganymede. A long abandoned experiment, subjects of Ganymede have had their ability to shift prolonged, but at a terrible cost. They become mentally unstable, and in some cases psychopathic. Tyler and his girlfriend Aubery Jones have tracked down all of them bar one. Somehow you know that one ain’t going to come easy.
I can’t talk too much about the plot of Control. To do so would risk spoiling the book. Each strand is cleverly entwined into the main fabric of the story and no detail is insignificant.
The book moves away from the moral questioning of the first book, (What stops us from punching annoying people in the face?) to a more metaphysical conundrum. There is a light brush with quantum physics, and branching universes, with each decision shifted being like a ripples on a pond. It examines how we are a product of our decisions, and how the millions of decisions made each day construct the world we live in.
Curran uses her creation more subtly in this book. Shifting can not only ensure the best outcome in a given situation, but can be used to construct decision trees that stretch deep into the past. The consequences of this are fascinating and mind-bending in equal measure.
Scott and Aubery make a strong central pairing, and they are well drawn and believable. As in the first book the action is slick. The ending is entirely unexpected, and frankly, inspired. Curran hangs her readers from the most enormous of cliffs. It’s exciting, but book 3 (which I believe is to be called Delete) can’t come soon enough.
Control is like the episode of Doctor Who you always hope for but never get. It’s high concept that makes sense right through to the end. The plotting is bang on. There’s no arm-waving and talking fast to cover up a hole. Scott Tyler would make a fantastic TV hero, who would happily fill those Saturday nights on the run up to Christmas. It would be great if it could happen. Maybe in another reality, it already has…