The Murder Complex
by Lindsay Cummings
Series: The Murder Complex #1
Publication Date: 10 June 2014
Greenwillow Books, Hardcover, 398 pages
An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.
Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.
The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?
Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings.
What’s it with me and books I’ve been anticipating turning out a disappointment these days? First Hexed by Michelle Krys and now The Murder Complex too. Anyone who follows this blog would know I’ve featured The Murder Complex in any post that relates to books I’m looking forward to this year and/or this summer. It looked amazing and the synopsis had made it seem as if the plot brimmed with unique potential. Unfortunately, this book only turned out to be average and had also been extremely lacking in the originality department.
To sum it up, The Murder Complex was set in a world where most of America had died off from a plague (that was not really elaborated on) and our protagonist, Meadow Woodson, and her family lived in a walled in area ruled by a corrupted government called the Initiative. It was a dangerous place to live and had been filled with poverty, violence, and other dystopian whatnots. The really crazy thing though, was that at night (which had been appropriately named the Dark Time), homicidal mind-controlled orphans—called Wards—would run amok the streets and murder a bunch of people.
Where does Meadow come into the picture? Her mother had been murdered during the Dark Time and her father was left to be the only breadwinner in a family of four. With the meager rations given out to civilians, Meadow and her elder brother, Koi, had been trained from a young age to survive, and ultimately succeed in snagging a job—and the salary that came with in the form of increased rations—at the age of sixteen. Koi had failed and hence, Meadow is now expected to acquire the job (via whatever means necessary) and help feed the starving Woodson family. Or more accurately, the starving Peri Woodson, youngest child of the family.
The biggest impression The Murder Complex had left on me was how it felt as if the author had taken various parts of other YA dystopian novels to formulate the “perfect” dystopian story. Actually, I made a list of the most glaring similarities:
- Significant jumping-onto-a-train and tattoo moment. (Divergent by Veronica Roth)
- Normal words turned into verbs. For example, Ward, Pin, Dark Time, Orb, Catalogue Number, the Perimeter, the Silent Hour, Before, the Initiative. That’s just to name a few. (About every single dystopian novel there is)
- “New” swear words and name-calling terms like “flux” and “ChumHead”. (Across the Universe by Beth Revis, the terms used in which were “frex” and “chutz” respectively)
The above are just a few I could remember off the top of my head. There were quite some others I simply did not have the time to note down.
In my opinion, the plot itself had been fairly enjoyable but had nothing that truly distinguished itself from being just another YA dystopian novel. Moreover, I’m pretty sure there had been little to no explanation about the existence of the Silent Hour, an hour allocated every late afternoon—I think—to mourn the murder victims and when which no one was supposed to speak or risk getting shot without trial of any sort.
Despite my complaints, I do feel Meadow had been an incredible character. Tough and world-weary, she’s the sort of person I would not be likely to get along with in real life but the flaws and strengths she had complemented each other and made sense. Whether it was intended or coincidental (you really couldn’t tell because the description of Meadow’s character felt so natural and effortless), Cummings definitely created a well-developed protagonist.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Zephyr. He was a nice person in general but that’s about it. Well, apart from his bloodthirsty frenzies, he’s nothing much. There were barely any defining traits regarding Zephyr. Though now that I think of it, because [spoiler] none of his childhood memories had been real and since memories largely define a person [spoiler end], his lack of haecceity might actually make sense.
The highpoint of the story had been disappointingly anti-climatic. Yes, the big revelation had been unexpected but also unimpressive. It was probably due to the too-short build-up towards the ‘final stand’ and the fact that in retrospect, Meadow had not indeed accomplished anything that mattered. Overall, The Murder Complex had been a meh book that tried a little too hard to be flawless and needed more innovation and novelty. However, I’m likely to continue with its sequels as the writing itself had been striking and there might still be hope for the salvation of the story.