Review: The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

The Murder ComplexTitle: The Murder Complex

Author: Lindsay Cummings

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Release Date: June 10th, 2014

Interest: Dystopian / Sci-fi / Debut author

Source: Purchased

Summary (From Goodreads):

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?

It’s been a while since I’ve read a dystopian/sci-fi novel, so when I was at Barnes & Noble I decided to buy The Murder Complex. I’m happy with my purchase because I know it will be a hit with my students, especially those who like The Hunger Games, Legend, Blood Red Road, Divergent, and the like.

Before I get into how Lindsay Cumming’s debut will appeal to fans of other popular dystopian/sci-fi novels, I need to go over a couple areas. First, I like that we read this story from both Meadow’s and Zephyr’s points of view. I do hope, however, that in the second book their voices are more distinct. I only knew who was speaking based on the chapter headings, their situations, and when Zephyr would use words like “flux” and “skitz” to swear. It was nice understanding more of the world and story since we can read from both points of view, but I didn’t feel a connection to either character. I didn’t really worry about them or care for them like I have for characters in other novels. The constant action and mystery kept me reading more than the characters did.

The setting and the concept, however, are interesting and what sets this book apart from the rest. I can’t go into too much detail here without giving away major plot points though. I’d like to learn more about it in the second book . Hopefully these two pieces along with the character development and voices will be stronger.

It’s difficult to find a dystopian novel now that hasn’t been influenced by the major players published before it. Sometimes that turns me off more than other times when I’m reading, but this time around I appreciated it simply because I can tell The Murder Complex has been influenced by so many of my students’ favorites. It will help me lead them to another series once they finish one or while they’re waiting for a book in a different series. I’m going to break the comparisons down by book for this part of my review.

The Murder Complex and Legend by Marie Lu:

  • The first big comparison is that in both books we’re reading two different point of views. Also, we’re reading a male and female POV in each book which adds additional appeal to readers.
  • The second big comparison is that the main characters in both books should be at odds with one another for various reasons but they’re drawn together. I like the relationship between Day and June in Legend much more than the relationship between Zephyr and Meadow. Zephyr and Meadow have insta-love and I still don’t understand why. I do like, however, that their relationship doesn’t dominate the story. Readers looking for a book without a lot of romance will appreciate that.
  • Meadow is strong and devoted to her family just like June is.
  • I think The Murder Complex is more similar to Legend than any of the other books I’m going to compare it to.

The Murder Complex and Blood Red Road by Moira Young:

  • The strongest comparison to this book is that Meadow and Saba could cause some serious damage to their enemies if they ever paired up in a book. They are fierce.
  • The settings in both books are stark and dangerous.

The Murder Complex and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Young:

  • Meadow is extremely protective of her little sister Peri just like Katniss is protective of her little sister Prim. They’re even both named after plants (or names connected with nature).
  • Zephyr has been drawn to Meadow longer than Meadow knows, much like Peeta and Katniss.
  • Meadow doesn’t want to be involved in this conflict, much like Katniss doesn’t want to be involved in the Hunger Games. It boils down to both protecting their families and doing what they feel is inherently right.

Hopefully these comparisons will help you connect Lindsay Cummings’ debut with readers. If you want to recommend this book to a middle school student, however, I suggest reading it first. There are a number of bloody and violent scenes that don’t go beyond YA, but they may upset sensitive readers.

Top Ten Tuesday: Recommendations for Divergent/The Hunger Games Fans

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

This year more than any other year, my students have been voraciously reading dystopian stories. It only took a couple of readers and my fangirling over Allegiant to turn Divergent by Veronica Roth into a huge hit in my classroom and throughout the high school. I have a very long list of students waiting for all three books, so I’ve been busy recommending other titles that might help them get through the waiting period for Divergent. I also have quite a few students asking for books that are like The Hunger Games trilogy.

Since today’s Top Ten Tuesday post is all about recommendations, I decided to compile a list of books I’ve been recommending to my students who are looking for book like Divergent and The Hunger Games.

For the students who want an awesome heroine…

Enclave by Ann Aguirre (Goodreads) & Blood Red Road by Moira Young (Goodreads)–Both heroines are tough and all-around awesome. I’ve gone so far as to say that Saba from Blood Red Road makes Katniss look like a wimp.

For the students who crave adventure & suspense…

Unwind by Neal Shusterman (Goodreads), Legend by Marie Lu (Goodreads), Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (Goodreads)–I haven’t recommended Legend as often this year as I normally would because I’m going to read it out loud when my seniors are reading 1984. Quite a few of my seniors have been racing through the Unwind series.

For the students who want to experience a futuristic world gone wrong…

Memento Nora by Angie Smibert (Goodreads), Wither by Lauren DeStefano (Goodreads), The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey (Goodreads)–Showing the trailers for The Fifth Wave made this an instant hit.

For the students who want some romance…

Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Goodreads), Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (Goodreads)–Some of my students have a tough time with the writing style in Shatter Me, but most of them can’t get enough of this series.

Book Trailer Thursday (93)–Legend & Prodigy by Marie Lu

This book trailer is more of a “combo” trailer than an individual trailer for Prodigy, and I have no idea if an individual trailer for Prodigy will be made, but I like how both books are combined in this trailer.  I like this angle of advertising because it allows readers who haven’t started the trilogy the chance to see what the story is about and where it’s going.

Yesterday I saw someone tweeting about the Prodigy trailer which is why I was looking it up.  I’m not sure if that person was watching this trailer or another one, but either way the comment made applies.  The person tweeting mentioned that she thought Day is Asian, which he is.   Since Day is of Asian descent, shouldn’t the actor portraying him in the trailer be as well?  This is timely considering the article from The Hub (YALSA) that just released on Monday.  Any thoughts on this?  Is this another example of whitewashing?

LegendSummary of Legend (From Goodreads): What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

ProdigySummary of Prodigy (From Goodreads): June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

In this highly-anticipated sequel, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action.

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