The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings (The Murder Complex, #1). | Format: Hardcover, 398 pages, Greenwillow Books, HarperCollinsPublishers, 2014. | Add to your Goodreads TBR here!
Imagine a world where the murder rate is higher than the birth rate. Sounds pretty horrible, right? The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings is a fast-paced, easy to fly through novel set in a dystopia America. There are graphic, gruesome scenes, and pretty grim situations in here. I’d heard some people loved this book and some people hated this book, so I wasn’t all too sure what I was going to think of it. I ended up liking it and enjoying the story while it lasted, but I had a few problems with it.
The story goes back and forth between two main characters: Meadow and Zephyr. Meadow has been brutally trained by her father since she was little to learn how to survive in this harsh world. She has an older brother, Koi, and a younger sister, Peri. I liked the presence of Meadow’s father, and her siblings, in this book, and I liked her father’s pure dedication to keep them all safe. But it was Peri who kept Meadow going, who was Meadow’s reason to keep surviving. The “heroine has to protect little sister at all costs” trope is getting a little old, though.
Zephyr is a Ward, an orphan, a person at the bottom of the trash heap… or so he thinks. His best friend is a girl named Talan. Talan was a good friend–and a character who completely disappeared for the entire middle chunk of the book and didn’t pop up again until she could be useful to the plot. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but Talan was a great character who I wish had gotten more page time. But, ahem, moving back to Zephyr…
Zephyr’s been dreaming about a girl for a long time now. Yes, dreaming. And who does this girl happen to be? None other than our own silver-haired, fierce Meadow, that’s who. And it’s love at first sight. Ugh. It was so cheesy how Zephyr just fell in love with her. And then it was so unbelievable when Meadow super-quickly fell for him! In a world where you have to literally fight to keep your life as you walk home every single day, I’d expect people to be way more cautious about forming relationships, especially with boys who dream about you. But, hey, that’s instalove in a Young Adult novel for you. It doesn’t always have to make sense.
Meadow and Zephyr’s voices didn’t sound too different, unfortunately… Sometimes I didn’t know whose point of view I was reading from. Yay for the chapter headers telling who was narrating. It’s a tricky thing, making each character sound distinct, but it bugs me very much when I can’t tell whose POV I’m reading from, since I don’t like taking time to jolt out of the story and read the chapter header saying either “Meadow” or “Zephyr” or any character’s name in any book, for that matter. Sigh.
An interesting detail about the world is that everyone’s forehead is tattooed with a barcode. However, with the “Pins” everyone has injected into their arms at birth and the amount of technology available, you’d think that the barcodes would be a bit unnecessary to track people with. (Ahem, I am aware of what the Pins do. I read this book, after all. I’m just trying to keep this review non-spoilery.) Cool concept, but not very important. Even in the book, the barcodes were only really used to unlock doors and prove people’s identity to get food rations. Couldn’t the Pins do that, too? It’s explained that the Pins are reused after a person’s death, but if that’s the case, couldn’t you just reprogram them? (Sigh. I’m overthinking this.) Anyways, I did like the barcodes that adorned the edge of each page in this book. It was a nice touch. But I don’t like how you can barely see the barcode on Meadow’s face on the book’s cover. The cover is eh, in my opinion. It’s bright red, like blood, but not very compelling.
That twist concerning Meadow toward the book’s end was pretty cool, I’ll admit. (Science sure has come a long way!) And there were some huge questions left unanswered by the book’s end. I’m intrigued and want the sequel. While it may sound like I didn’t like this book from the ranting I just did, that’s not true–I did enjoy this book. I just had some problems with it, though none of them detract from the book too much; they’re easy enough to ignore. ANYWAY, The Murder Complex is action-packed, dark and gritty, and has a tough heroine who uncovers some pretty shocking secrets. It’s not my favorite dystopia, but is a good story for the most part (though, cripes, that instalove, ack) and had me turning page after page into the night. ♦