Welcome to the Murder Complex.
You cannot see us. You cannot feel us.
But we are here.
And we control your every move.
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.
“The sea is packed with boats. Some of them are still afloat, with their masts stretching like arms to the sky. Others are half-submerged, ship wrecked and covered with moss. Among the boats are other things. Old tires, half of a rusted car, plastic.”
“The massive black wall that surrounds the Shallows.”
The Rations Hall
“The building is short and squatty, an old elementary school salvaged from the days before the world went to hell.”
“Stands like a ghostly mountain range in the distance, piles of trash stretching to the sky. Four steam towers drop a constant fog over the Graveyard, working in vain to conceal the stench.”
Homes for Wards of the State
“Thousands of tents litter the surrounding marshlands.”
“It is a virtual graveyard. All around me, lining the black walls of the Dome, are the numbers and portraits of deceased citizens.”
“A monstrous black dome that seems to scrape the underside of the clouds. It’s the only city building that isn’t covered in filth and grime and tattered posters [. . .] windows are boarded up with planks of old salvaged wood.”
The Cortez Pier
“It is a massive boardwalk, larger than life itself, is a giant silver globe, held up by a massive golden hand. Carved in the thumb is an open eye..”
There are four commandments of the Shallows that must be met and followed to a T, or else face the consequences.
“…barcodes show the Initiative where we are, who we are, every moment of our lives.”
The Initiative tattoo
“[. . .] an Initiative tattoo – an open, unblinking eye.”
I think the triangle seems fitting, because I swear, The Initiative is secretly the Illuminati.
The Ward Mark
“A thick black X tattooed on the back of his neck.”
Meadow’s “fearless” tattoo on her forearm
“You lost another tooth,” I say to her. “You know what that means?”
“Koi says all my teeth will fall out and I’ll look like a fish.”
I glare a Koi, and he stifles a laugh.
“Make on wrong move and this blade goes through your heart.”
“You should threaten me more often. I like it.”
**Quotes are taken directly from an ARC, and are subject to change from the final copy.**
When I first read the synopsis, I thought it would be like The Purge. Murdering anyone without conviction, all legal. I just thought it would be citizens slaughtering each other whenever they feel like it. Boy was I wrong, and it’s a good thing I was. They all are under scrutiny with assigned jobs and responsibilities. There’s pretty much zero freedom and they have to answer to officers and other authority figures. Murder does happen though, but only at night during the Dark Times. At least… that’s how it started out.
Lindsay Cummings created this world where food is scarce, lack of education, the birthrate low and murder rate is high, nightmares keep them up at night, certain grounds are permitted only be payment, and citizens adorn catalogue numbers on their foreheads in form of barcodes to show where they are and who they are for all of their lives. Not only that; some are programmed to kill and some are trained to survive. And others are for the taking in a bloodbath. They also have something in their blood that induces healing of sorts. Our MC Meadow is trained to survive, not only for herself, but to help her family survive too. I applaud Meadow; that girl may be young but does she have the skills to survive. Don’t underestimate her. She’s one to be reckoned with. Is it weird that I pictured her as Celaena from Throne of Glass that adorns the book cover once I found out Meadow has silver hair and can fight for survival? Anyway, those who aren’t equip to survive, rely on the Night Siren. It signals night fall is near and to get to safety for things happen when the sun goes down. They say that monsters come out at night, and that’s true, but these monsters are our own. Humans. However, these are humans that are assassins programmed by the government. It may look like they share the same skin, but couldn’t be more different on the inside once their mind no longer belongs to them. What’s the point or goal in murdering? Well, that’s the million dollar question.
We dive into two POVs: Meadow’s and Zephyr’s. They each have different roles, but soon their paths cross that may or may not have turned deadly. Zephyr is a Ward. Wards reminds me of Cleaners. You know, the ones who are cleaning up the mess after a mission or assignment is done. Although Zephyr is plagued with nightmares night after night and responsible for some murders under the authorities thumb, he’s humble and has hopes and dreams. His moonlit girl is his anchor, and I think that is really sweet. Zephyr carries a lot of burden: loss, guilt, pain, anguish, and loneliness that usually hardens a person, but not Zephyr. And that’s what I love about him. The words that Zephyr comes up with is quite entertaining, and that’s needed in their life. He’s quite quotable, actually. He’ll probably get you trying out a few of his vocab words soon. His character surprised me in a few ways, and I kind of fell for him. He’s a new book boyfriend, people. I guarantee it. I also like his friendship with Talan. Talan reminded me a little bit of Izzy from The Mortal Instrument series. When Zephyr is no longer in control of his mind, body or actions, we start getting to the central hub of what the Murder Complex really is.
Once the characters find a little bit more of what the Murder Complex is, we are taken on a journey to find out who was behind it, how many are programmed to it, and how to shut it down. Plans go awry, shocking secrets are revealed, and it leads to quite a cliffhanger ending that will make you want to rip off your arm in payment for the sequel. I didn’t know what to expect as everything went down, so a lot of the revelations and actions made my mind spin several times. Needless to say, well-behaved women rarely make history, and I have a feeling Meadow will make a huge impact in their world in the foreseeable future. We’ll see what her climactic action in the end will take her in the next installment.
I am impressed that this is Cummings’ debut novel. The story and world she created and laid out was vivid, evocative and scary to be honest. It was well-thought out. Living in a world that these characters reside chills you to your bones. You learn quite a few things along the way. Some things are questioned and tried. Moral compasses are tested. Secrets are kept, secrets are found out. It’s hard to keep secrets from the Initiative, and when they discover of them, there’s a price to pay. You learn family and moral values, sacrifices, right from wrong, appreciating what you have and expect nothing. This book may not be for everyone, depending on what appeals to readers and what doesn’t, and that’s okay. It’s to be expected. I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed it. If you’re into young and strong characters in a brutal world, corruption, bloodshed, moral values, then you will enjoy The Murder Complex too.
I want to thank The Book Addict’s Guide for letting me join the Murder Complex blog tour and for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. It does not influence my review, nor am I being compensated.
Lindsay Cummings is a 22 year old author of YA and MG books at HarperCollins. She lives in Dallas, TX with her husband Josh, her hedgehog named Hedwig, her two German Shepherds Hurley and Kai, her wolf cub Kimber, and a draft horse named Dan the Man. Lindsay deals with Chronic Fatigue issues, believes Jesus is the reason for all of her success, and swears that book hoarding is not a problem at all. She’s still waiting on her letter from Hogwarts–it was probably just lost in the mail. You can follow Lindsay on twitter @authorlindsayc and instagram @authorlindsaycummings. You can also visit her book blogging website for teens at http://www.booknerdigans.com