I have had a catch and release kind of of relationship with Lindsay Cummings’ The Murder Complex duology. I kept on getting drawn in by the premise and the beautiful cover, then getting put off by the mixed reviews. When it happened for the umpteenth time, I decided to throw caution to the wind and read it. I live to regret that decision.
The Murder Complex is YA sci-fi dystopian thriller that follows the lives of Meadow and Zephyr, who live in the Shallows, a world surrounded by an allegedly protective wall/perimeter where the murder rate is at an all time high. But the world outside the perimeter is supposedly worse. Zephyr is an an orphan/ward of the state, tasked with cleaning up the ever-increasing pile of victims while Meadow desperately wants to secure a government job to feed her poor family. She has been ceaselessly trained to survive so as to secure a job by any means necessary. He, unbeknownst to him, is programmed to kill. Their paths cross when Meadow saves Zephyr, who guilt-ridden from unknowingly murdering folk tries to kill himself. After that brief encounter, Zephyr and Meadow become infatuated with each other, at which point in time, Zephyr tries to kill Meadow. What ensues is a fast paced, blood soaked thriller with conspiracies abound.
The premise is promising and is the very thing that makes you want to pick up this novel. The duality of protagonists, one trained to cheat death and the other to bring it about was certainly intriguing. I was eager to see how their paths would cross, collide and reconcile.
The Bad and the Ugly
The romance almost single handedly ruined this book for me. I am not a big believer in love at first sight but I can be convinced of it, if argued well with supporting authority. This is an example where the arguments were not convincing. Zephyr, for one, dreams of a moonlit girl like Meadow and once he sights Meadow, swears she is the person he has waited his entire life to see. His concerns for murders he commits involuntarily gets replaced and consumed by Meadow.
Meadow, unfortunately, is no better when it comes to Zephyr. She is introduced as this tough-as-nails protagonist, painfully trained to be cautious of the world. Her sudden infatuation with Zephyr, arguably, went against her inherent characteristics. Needless to say, I was overjoyed when he tries to kill her, because what else should befall someone who takes a stranger’s hand after a moment of meeting him to go swimming in the ocean with him…in dystopia…where murder is at an all time high. While Meadow, after that plot twist, re-arranges her feelings into something that is semi-sensible, Zephyr refuses to get off the predestined and fated love train, further dooming he’s chances of being a likeable character. Ultimately, both characters, Meadow for her inconsistency and Zephyr for his effeminacy, became nonsensical and as a result rather forgettable.
The world building was adequate, arguably gritty and gory to appear edgy. It is also unnecessarily complicated and hard to follow, mostly because characters and constructs are abandoned half way and backgrounds/foundations for certain plot lines are half-baked or non-existent. What really grated on my nerves was the terminology. Cummings makes up the words ‘flux’, ‘chumhead’ and ‘skitz’ in an effort to cuss and swear without setting off the parental guidance disclaimers but the exercise comes off as being rather juvenile and annoying.
In summary, despite the intriguing premise the book was incredibly disappointing. I was quite surprised that I even finished reading this one, given that I did not even feel a sliver of a connection with the world or its characters. That being said, there are several reviewers out there who happened to like The Murder Complex? Are you one of them? Let us know.