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The Murder Complex

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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.

398 pages, Hardcover

First published June 10, 2014

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About the author

Lindsay Cummings

12 books5,134 followers
Lindsay Cummings is the #1 NYT Bestselling co-author of ZENITH, along with her duology, THE MURDER COMPLEX from Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins, and the MG trilogy THE BALANCE KEEPERS, from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins. She is represented by Pete Knapp at Park Literary in NYC.

Lindsay deals with chronic fatigue, writes full time from her home in the deep woods in North Texas, and loves to chat with fellow book nerds. Lindsay created the #booknerdigans hashtag.

She's still waiting on her letter from Hogwarts--it was probably just lost in the mail. You can follow Lindsay on twitter @authorlindsayc or on instagram @authorlindsaycummings

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,576 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,945 reviews291k followers
June 14, 2014
That's it. No more YA dystopias for Emily. I think I've said this before so I might be lying again, but I am so ready to get away from this exhausted and overcrowded genre.

Finding some level of originality is a fundamental problem for those authors who decide to jump on the bandwagon and tackle the world of YA dystopian fiction. If you can possibly make a dystopia out of it, then you can bet it's already been written in the past few years since The Hunger Games took centre stage. Every form of tyrannical government has been introduced and overthrown, every possible nightmare world has been explored, every little thing that people love has been outlawed and rediscovered - one of the latest even going so far as to get rid of food!

Therefore, new authors to the genre almost always produce one of two things: 1) a book that is a carbon copy of all the others before it, or 2) a book that has been deliberately over-complicated in a bid to make it seem original. The Murder Complex falls somewhere between those two.

On the one hand, this book seems like nothing we haven't read a million times before. World in the shitter, young lovers from two very different worlds, oppressive government... like a less compelling version of Marie Lu's Legend trilogy, which I do recommend if you haven't checked it out (the first book isn't the best one, though). But in this case, Cummings has also developed a dense plot that left me feeling confused, rather than wowed. One could attribute this to some fault in intelligence on my part, but I feel something less deliberately convoluted would have made the story better. I actually had to go back and read the blurb at times to remind myself of the basic premise.

The narration is split between our two main characters - Meadow and Zephyr. Meadow is a standard YA female MC who is defined by her badassery and willingness to kill if necessary; while I am pleased that seeing women as heroes and fighters is no longer an oddity in fiction, it is hard to care about them when they are so lacking in any real personality and development. Zephyr, on the other hand, is an orphaned Ward whose job it is to clean up the corpses of murder victims. He is also prone to mysterious blackouts and dreams about a silver-haired girl (guess who?). The real problem where the narration is concerned is that the two voices never become particularly distinct - a necessity if multiple POVs is to work.

Plot twists mount up, new discoveries that unmoved me are made, and instalove reigns supreme. I did not hate this book, there were a few scenes that I thought were particularly well-written and engaging. But there was no real spark in this story and, despite the bloody and dramatic plot, I finished it with no interest in what the sequel holds.

I would only recommend this to hardcore dystopian romance fans who want more of the same.

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January 1, 2014
I had a nagging sense of familiarity while reading this book, and it wasn't until the end that I finally realized what it was. This book reminded me of The Bone Season, and if you know me and my history with that book...it's not a good thing. This was such a disappointment to me, because this had been one of my most eagerly anticipated books for 2014.

It is an overhyped book that underdelivered. It was technically perfect while being completely devoid of emotion, with a convoluted, action-packed plot that made largely no sense. The world building is chock full of strange terminology (minus the glossary), and the world itself is without much context, without much sense. The characters are forgettable, they are merely generically likeable and utterly lacking in personality. It is heavy on a completely unnecessary romance, with a tremendous amount of insta-love. And most importantly, however action-packed it was, I just found myself completely, utterly bored.

I wanted to DNF this book at 25%. I trudged on. I wanted to DNF at 75%. I forced myself on. And honestly, I could have DNFed this at 95% because this book just bored me to all hell, and I did not give a single fuck about any of the characters. The book was so incredibly long and dull that I did not really care about what happened in the end.

Here are some of my problems with this book

The Overly Complicated Plot: It is never, ever a good thing when halfway through the book, I have to go look back at the summary because I wasn't sure what I was reading. Judge my intelligence how you will, but I found this book to be a tremendous confusion-packed mess. Very, very briefly, it goes something like this: We have Meadow, a girl, who lives on a steamboat with her dad and siblings. We have Zephyr, an orphan boy who lives with flelow orphans, picking up bodies. For some reason, there are a whole lot of bodies to be picked up. There's a lot of people just dying, and it's no big deal at all. Meadow is trying to get a job. She gets it by killing a girl (and the job is never, ever mentioned again). People kill each other. Again, nobody cares. Zephyr acts really tragic, he speaks mysteriously about his "secret." We have no idea what the secret is. He dreams of a "moonlit girl" with silvery blonde hair (who is *gasp* Meadow). They run into each other several times, purely out of coincidence. They fall in love. They go chill on a boardwalk (because what else are you supposed to do when you're not picking up the corpses on the street).

Zephyr whispers sweet nothings into Meadow's ears. He tries to kill her.

Yeah. And then there's all this running away and lots of killing and lots of blood and lots of conspiracies.

And we're not even 33% into the book yet. Forget the killings in the book, I was about to be killed by boredom. I don't even fucking know what a Murder Complex is until around 50% into the book. The summary lies. Big time.

The Romance: I understand teenaged hormones, I understand attraction, and I don't throw the word insta-love around unless I feel strongly that it exists: this book is so utterly, completely packed with insta-love and unnecessary romance.
My breath sort of stops, right there in my lungs.
Standing behind the glass...is the person I swear I’ve waited my entire life to see.
There is a time and place for love, and it is not in a dystopia, and the words "I LOVE YOU" should not be uttered when you've seen the person all of a few hours, when the book is not even 33% finished.
I should be mad. I should be angry and embarrassed.
Instead, all I can think is I might love this girl.
Take Zephyr. The insta-love is strong with him. He dreams of a girl...
The stars are out tonight. But the stars aren’t what I want to see right now.
It’s the moon. The moon that reminds me of the moonlit girl.
My moonlit girl. She’s the cure to my nightmares, the one thing that helps me feel safe when I can’t even trust my own dreams to harbor me.
There aren’t many things I want.
But stars, I want the moonlit girl.
"Moonlit girl." "Silvery-blonde" girl. Moonlit girl. MOONLIT GIRL. It is repeated so many times throughout the book that I was sick of it, and I was sick of Zephyr. For fuck's sakes, you have more things to worry about than a girl who appears in your dreams.
"...maybe there’s a chance she’s been dreaming of me, too."
Meadow is no better, for all her claims of being a tough killer.
He is beautiful. Shaggy brown hair sweeps across his face, and I am shocked at how bad I want to touch it.
She shouldn't be thinking this while she's watching the guy BLEED TO DEATH.

It is the kind of love that I, with my practical mind, hates the most. Zephyr's love for Meadow is that of infatuation, that of predestination, that of fate. I don't believe in fated love. I believe that love should be based on friendship, trust, it should be worked on, it should be earned. Zephyr's instantaneous love for Meadow is so completely impractical, so completely unbelievable, so utterly girlish in terms of a serious, blood-filled novel such as this. This book aims to be Nikita, if so, it should really just leave out the sudden, inexplicable romance that truly plays no role in the plot at all.

The Big Event: This is not a spoiler, just something that happened in the past that led up to this future. Let's say that you are a researcher at a lab. You just discovered a new drug. Do you get it onto the market right away? No. Fuck no. We have a fucking thing called the Food and Drug Administration. It takes 5-30 years to get a drug onto the market. You need fucking drug trials. You need fucking human trials. You need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it is completely safe for human consumption. You don't fucking get approval from the government to pump it through the water system right away for the consumption of some 300-million odd Americans. Americans would never fucking go for that shit. Hell, we have enough complaints about the current water supply being infused with fluoride for the good of our teeth. Fuck that shit. There's a thing called the Drug Approval Process and it doesn't get anywhere as convenient as tings happened in this book. Look it up.

The World Building and Terminology: The Dark Times. The Silent Hour. Nanites. Pins. Leeches. Fluxing this, Chumhead that. The Catalogue Dome. Creds. The Initiative. The Plague. The Pulse. Wards. Placement Tests. My head was spinning. It's not even strange terminogy, but it makes no sense out of context, and there is very little context. You know sometimes in college, you have a brain fart and accidentally wander into a huge lecture hall that's not your own (ok, maybe just me) and you're sitting there sweating buckets, wondering why the fuck nothing makes sense? That's how I felt about this book. I was completely immersed into a well-built world that has very little background.

Ok, so we're in the future, there was an event called a pre-Fall that was never really explained. People are dying. Again, no explanation at all for quite some time. The word Murder Complex isn't even mentioned until we're considerably 25% into the book, and even then, it took a whole lot more book space until we find out what it was, and I was completely lost and all the cares I had for this book had flown out the window by the time I got to this point. There are no food. There is a ruling Initiative. There are tons of orphans. There are gangs. And it's not even 20 years into the future.

WAIT, WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Seriously, the world is well built, but there was so very little explanation for the current society, and the past, and the explanation of the past that I found this version of dystopia to be completely forgettable. There was an absolute lack of historical context that would only bypass the most forgiving of readers.

The Confusion: This book is so action-packed that I had trouble keeping track of where they are, and when they are. I just don't know where things are taking place. Zephyr and Meadow are talking, where are they? Fucked if I know. The setting is poorly built in this matter because I just can't get a clear idea of where things are and what is happening.

The Characters: Are inconsistent, are forgettable, and make choices that make no sense at all. Meadow can't make up her mind who she wants to be. She is supposed to be a killer, and we see that. She kills. I admire that. But then she goes around and falls in love and starts kissing a boy seconds before he tries to kill her. And then she gets mad at him, and then forgives him, and then can't make up her mind whether or not she should kiss him or kill him? Fuck that. Her father trained her to be a killer, and Meadow knows that in order for her to survive, she must be a killer. It makes no sense that she is so utterly wishy-washy in her actions, in her choices.

I honestly had a tough time telling which chapters were Zephyr's and which chapters were Meadow's, towards the end of the first half of the book, because their voices blended together and they felt like a single entity instead of one. I think it's more of the fact that Zephyr's voice felt effeminate, and he is such an utterly pale character that I can't be bothered remembering him.

Other characters in the book are completely nonsensical in their decisions. Take Meadow's take-no-prisoner father. He's been training his children to survive since they were small, understandable, but it doesn't really fucking make sense to tell his kids to do something that almost got them killed NUMEROUS times, in fact, they were seconds away from death as children. There are surely better ways of training your children and not lose them in the attempt. I really can't find any liking for the characters in this book.

Convenient Events: I don't want to say deus ex machina, but there you have it. There are WAY too many convenient coincidences in this book. Accidentally climb onto a yacht only to overhear something important? Accidentally discovering the importance of one's mother? Accidentally discovering MORE SHIT? OH, WE JUST HAPPENED TO FIND A CRATE OF WEAPONS. No. No. No. After the 5th such discovery, I just wanted to scream out in frustration.

Boredom: Ok, this is just entirely subjective, but there we have it. I was bored as fuck, and this book was a tremendously long waste of my time.

Overall: a terrible disappointment. Don't buy the hype.

This book was provided to me as an Advance Reader Copy. Quotes were taken from an uncorrected galley and is subject to change in the final edition.
Profile Image for Sasha Alsberg.
Author 8 books66.9k followers
January 27, 2014
When I first heard the title of The Murder Complex I immediately thought of one thing: Blood. The title stayed true to the book because let me say, The Murder Complex was one gruesome read!

TMC (The Murder Complex) is Lindsay Cummings debut novel and while lots of debut novels can go wrong, this one went right! Like every book, it had its flaws but within those flaws it has potential. When Lindsay contacted me asking if I wanted an ARC of her book a few months ago, I could not turn down the Harper Collins author’s request. It seemed like such a compelling read that even if she never contacted me, I would probably still pick it up in stores once it comes out June 10th.

The plot line for The Murder Complex was such captivating dystopian read. Fans of Legend, Divergent and The Hunger Games are bound to gravitate toward The Murder Complex. TMC takes place in duel point of view between Meadow Woodsen and Zephyr James. Both characters story lines were interesting and very different. While Meadow was trained to survive this corrupt world where the murder rate is higher then the birth rate, Zephyr is an orphan (ward) who keeps his head low and tries not to attract any attention. I liked the alternating POVs, my only criticism with them is that the chapters could only be 3 pages long at certain points and sometimes I would’ve liked to stay in one of their heads a bit longer. But then again, it was nice that the chapters weren’t too long because it made it a faster read with non-stop action.

I don’t recommend this book to those of you who are squeamish about blood because this book is VERY bloody and graphic. Meadow and Zephyr both kill people throughout the course of the novel but while Zephyr feels remorse about his kills, Meadow doesn’t. It makes me think that Meadow is a psychopath. I would’ve liked to seen a bit more emotion come from her, not just toughness even though she does break down at one point in the book. I also would of liked to see some more character development between the two. I felt that the beginning of Zephyr and Meadow’s relationship was a bit forced but it toned down toward the middle of the novel and I liked that a lot. Sometimes in novels a relationship needs to take the backseat in order to really focus at the matter at hand. Except if it’s a romance book, then that’s okay! I do ship these two characters together; they really seem to care about each other and at the end of the day, that’s really all that matters. They balance each other out; Zephyr teaches Meadow how to trust while Meadow teaches Zephyr how to survive.

The whole deal with the Initiation and The Murder Complex was VERY interesting because I did not see half of those plot twists coming, even if some of them could be predictable. I do wish the world was explained a bit more, but then again, that’s part of the whole mystery.

Honestly, I would never want to live in a world like this. THAT’S WHY THIS BOOK IS SO INTERESTING. It makes the unbelievable, believable. If a person gets killed right in front of you in this dystopian world, you barely give it a second glance. But in our world if somebody gets killed right in front of you… You run as fast as your little fangirl/boy feet can take you (then you get help and some therapy)!

The Murder Complex captivates its readers with its fast paced storyline and powerful characters. In certain aspects of the book, there is definitely room for improvement but over all, this book series has so much potential and I can definitely see it going far. Keep up the awesome work Lindsay!

P.S. I cant believe such a nice and lovely woman like Lindsay could write such a mind boggling and bloody book… GO Lindsay!

I give The Murder Complex 4/5 stars. Make sure you pick it up at your local bookstore June 10, 2014!

Profile Image for Grace (BURTSBOOKS).
153 reviews352 followers
February 21, 2018
The Murder Complex is a YA dystopian novel that follows the points of view of Meadow and Zephyr, in a society where the death rate is higher than the birth rate. I know what you’re thinking, that shit sounds interesting as hell. IT IS interesting as hell, sadly though the writing of this book was almost unbearable and completely ruined any interest I had in the world.

I’ve already wasted soooooo much time torturing myself through reading this book I can’t even imagine actually writing a proper review, soooo I’m just gonna make an old fashion pro’s and con’s list and call it a day.

- Interesting concept
- That’s it.

- Interesting concept reduced to an overused ya tropey storyline (aka PREDICTABLE)
- Cliché uninspired metaphors everywhere
- Out of nowhere romance
- Plot progression that wasn’t even close to cohesive
- Cringey dialogue --- including made-up slang that took you right out of the story anytime a character used it
- Character consistency was non-existent
- Show, don’t tell wasn’t applied in the slightest
- Word choice was questionable most of the time
- Pointless dual perspective bullshit --- they were barely even distinguishable from each other
- Character’s motivations were unclear --- so many things happened “for some reason” --- yes those exact words were used in a damn NOVEL
- It doesn’t make any sense that a programmed murderer who fears his own violence and ruthlessness would be attracted to someone who is violent and ruthless
- I found myself asking “Where the fuck did this come from?” over and over and over again.

I feel like I could go on but I’m just gonna leave it here. This book was a joke and that fact is the only reason I actually got my way through it. It was so terribly written I actually enjoyed making notes on how terrible it was. Maybe it’s just the editor inside me or whatever but I swear this book could’ve been soooooo much better. The writing just screamed lazy and if it went through about… 5 more rounds of editing, maybe it would’ve been bearable.
Profile Image for Lexie.
230 reviews
Want to read
April 29, 2012
Lindsay has confirmed that there will be no love triangle. I could kiss her.
Profile Image for Ash.
382 reviews39 followers
March 23, 2021
“Count to three. Relax your mind. Now survive.”

WOW seriously, just wow. I have no idea why I was so hesitant to start this book. It had me on the edge of my seat, FREAKING OUT every other page. I had NO idea what was going to happen, I felt myself second guessing myself, there were so many twists and turns. I LOVE THIS BOOK

It was so...gritty and violent and insane crazy and the characters? I love Zephyr and Meadow

Of course, the cliffhanger just had to be a huge bitch, so I will definitely be getting my hands on book two as soon as freaking possible.

come find me:
IG: ash.reads Twitter @ReadsAsh
Profile Image for ambsreads.
656 reviews1,402 followers
July 16, 2016
“Murder Is Madness, Stay Safe with the Initiative.”

The Murder Complex was a book I got purely on a whim, and so I could ignore Sasha on snapchat when she constantly mentions the series - and maybe I could understand the hype she keeps trying to create around this particular book. Overall though, this book was a straight up let down.

Though, I did get something I love in a book. Death, torture, gore. Now, that seems a tad weird when you do go through my books since I more so lean towards romance - but I do love a book with well described scenes that make me picture what is happening e.g. when the fish hook is put through Zephyr's cheek.


Meadow was annoying, though she could still kickass and murder without so much as flinching. I'm unsure how Lindsay can write such a ruthless characters in this particular series but Zenith fell short on that front. I thought Meadow was an interesting character, despite her pretentious name that made my eyes each time I read it.

I admired her dedication to her family. Everything was about her family. She had to fight to protect them and she wouldn't regret what she did if it meant their safety. It made Meadow a lot more interesting. Though, she was also infuriating. She made dumb decisions. Or maybe it was just the ridiculous dialogue shared between characters who are supposed to be 16. I just couldn't handle it.

Zephyr was annoying, just straight up annoying. He was love sick over Meadow and on the second day of being around her declared his love mentally. It was ridiculous. It was literally Insta-love on his account. Zephyr was just an annoying male lead overall.

Though, he was funny. Not in the way you would think. But, in the way that I was laughing at him. He was the most annoying version of a character I am yet to read. He wasn't arrogant, or cocky - which wouldn't have bothered me - he was just whiney. One of the most annoying male leads I've read.

I also want to add how he was always forgetting about his best friend, who was by far the most interesting character.

World Building

It was weird. The world building seemed to be all over the place - which is excusable considering this was the authors first book. I just didn't connect to the world. It felt too Divergent to me, which I didn't enjoy that much, and slightly crossed with The Hunger Games. It fell short, like a lot of things in this book - to me personally.


Fell incredibly short with me. It got boring around 80%, when I just started to flick the pages in search for the end. The chapters were so short that I actually got annoyed at how frequently it would change. I wanted more substance in my chapter instead of a perspective change almost instantly.

I also want to mention the dialogue. Which was ridiculous - my apologies to the author. I couldn't stop laughing. It was all so ridiculous to me. Maybe this was apart of the world that I missed, but it fell incredibly short for me.


Was straight up predictable for me, which just added to more eye rolling. I just couldn't get into this book, and I constantly put it down in favour of other things aka folding up, which j never do. The romance made me gag and in some cases made me feel ill when Zephyr went on his spiels about how much he felt for Meadow - just me being cynical though problem.

I wouldn't say this is a bad book though. I would recommend it. It just wasn't for me, though I may continue this series.
Profile Image for Rashika (is tired).
976 reviews713 followers
May 11, 2014
***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

For the first time in a while, I was actually looking forward to a dystopia. I was eager to read this book. The premise was intriguing. It drew me in and when I saw this book on Edelweiss, I knew I had to have it.

Boy, was I in for a MAJOR disappointment. There were HEAPS of problems in this novel and not many redeeming factors in sight. In fact, it turned out to be a very typical dystopia instead of a unique one as it had promised. The only really positive thing I can say about this book was that I was never bored. I never dozed or fazed off. Hell, I didn’t even really rage until after I had finished the book. I was irritated and extremely annoyed but I didn’t rage.

Zephyr and Meadow suffer from the pretty people syndrome. Neither think they are much to look at, but would agree that the ‘other person' is the most beautiful person they have ever laid eyes on. When describing the 'other person', they never seem to see the scars. I don’t mean to imply they make a person less beautiful when I say that, but it just seems that in each other’s eyes they are flawless and that doesn’t make it easier for me to like the two. You could consider someone the most beautiful person WHILE still accounting for their imperfections, too. Also, might I add that in a murder-infested world, I don’t really see why beauty is so important. You don’t need to make a big deal about it… especially since every day seems to be a struggle for survival in this world.

I tried to ignore how they felt for one another and tried to enjoy their characters aside from their interactions with each other, but that seemed impossible to do considering how much time they actually spent with one another or thinking about the other person. It almost seems as though without the presence of the ‘other person', these two would have been incredibly flat (that isn’t to say they were particularly round.. they weren’t, but the book would have been extremely boring if the book only focused on one of them). Zephyr, for example, thinks that his only purpose is to protect Meadow, who from what I’ve seen is capable of protecting herself, so I do not comprehend his obsession with wanting to protect her.
“I feel like I can protect you now…”

Seriously. That is his what he says after he learns how to consciously use his fighting skills.

I cannot really say much else about these two in terms of their characters because they failed to leave any sort of impressions on me. I simply didn’t care about them.

Their romance on the other hand was a whole other story. It had insta-love written all over it. Within a span of a week (approximately?) they have ‘fallen in love’, have ‘known each other forever’ etc. What? I do not comprehend.  I really don’t see how they could have fallen in love seeing that Zephyr tried to kill Meadow in their first real interaction. I don’t even understand how Meadow could have so easily forgiven him for endangering her family (although I am not sure she even realized that his actions put her family in danger). Their romance just seems so oddly perfect. In a very bothersome way.

The secondary characters definitely had potential which went down the drain. For starters Talan annoyed the living daylights out of me. Her blatant disregard for prostitution in general was quite disturbing. It was a joke but the fact that she kept on threatening to turn to prostitution bothered me. I know she was going through a rough time but it didn’t, make it easier to swallow when our beloved Zephyr replied to her threats
“I’m seriously considering prostitution over this.”

With this
“Talan,” I groan, “you can’t just pawn yourself off like you’re a worthless Leech. You’re better than that.”

Uh huh. Would you like me to escort you to the exit or are you going to show yourself out?

Koi was an interesting secondary character but then again, was also a huge hypocrite. In spite of that though, I would have definitely liked to have seen more of him, since he seemed to be the most interesting character amongst them all.

The world building itself was not original, but on top of that, I also felt like it was sending the wrong messages. I felt like the book was trying to tell me how science is not always good and shoved that idea down our throats with such an extreme case. That just didn't work for me because really that sort of situation wasn't necessarily the result of science, science may have helped make it worse, but to imply it was the cause doesn't sit right with me. Everything depends on the intent of humans. You could make eating seem evil if it came to that (ooh, there is an idea, a world where everyone if forced to eat tons of food in a bad way?). Plus, it just seemed harder for me as a reader to wrap my head around how something good could lead to something bad. Was the book trying to imply that had everyone died and suffered the characters would have been better off? They might not even have been alive had a cure not been found.

The swear words were bothersome, too. It’s not like this book is set 100 years into the future or anything. From what I gather, it seems to be set around 20-30 years from a time when things were good so how have the swear words evolved so much?

I mean Flux and Skitz? REALLY? It just makes it altogether harder to take this book seriously when the swear words are so SILLY.

The plot just is. I mean, there are twists that I saw coming and other stuff going on, but this book was more like an intro and a build up for the sequels. Nothing particularly important (in my opinion) happened in this book. It was paced well enough and I finished it rather quickly, but it’s just that there seemed to be a lot of running around and a lot of discoveries over the course of a week. It didn't give me enough time as the reader  to actually keep up with what was happening and so there was this sort of detachment from the entire book for me.

If you’re reading this book in hopes of finding something unique in this genre, I suggest you look elsewhere ( After the End  perhaps?).

Note that all quotes have been taken from an uncorrected proof and may be subject to change
Profile Image for Elesia.
140 reviews219 followers
April 28, 2015
So, The Murder Complex is Lindsay Cummings debut novel and it's had a lot of talk surrounding it, both bad and good. I went into this only having a very very vague idea of what it was about and it was completely different from what I expected, though not in a bad way! The Murder Complex is a pretty dark read, which you can probably gather just from the title. This book is pretty bloody and gory, so be aware of that. It's a pretty dark dystopian but personally I enjoy those best!

This book is told in dual POV's, between Meadow, who's the daughter of a fisherman with two siblings to care and watch out for, and Zephyr who's a Ward, which is what they call orphans. Meadow was very tough and kickass, I liked that she was a fierce female main character! I liked that we got to see both these characters backgrounds through the dual perspectives but at the same time I feel like the POV changes and short chapters hindered me from fully connecting to the characters. I ended up connecting with Zephyr sort of towards the end, but I didn't really connect with Meadow which was one of my main issues with the book, along with the romance. I felt the romance was too rushed and happened way too fast for me to even connect with their relationship.

I really loved how action-packed this book was and how many surprises there were! So many plot twists and heart racing moments! There was always something going on and it kept me intrigued and kept me wanting to keep turning the page to find out what would happen next! I enjoyed this book overall, great darker dystopian!

Check out my review here! http://bookswithel.blogspot.ca/

Profile Image for Kainat 《HUFFLEPUFF & PROUD》.
293 reviews719 followers
April 17, 2016
4.5 Stars

Commandment One: Honor the Initiative.

Commandment Two: Thou shalt not attempt to cross the perimeter.

Commandment Three: Honor the Silent Hour.

Commandment Four: Thou shalt not harbor useful items from the days before.

I just love, LUV, love this cover!

So i decided to actually read something from my to-read list and this one caught my eye. The cover is just so beautiful, i've never heard anything about it, love going into a story without knowing anything! It's one of those book that are not getting the attention they deserve. It was such a fun bloody ride! I am not sure if i understand what's going on in this world but it's very interesting what we saw of it. Characters are believable and likable. It reminded me of Legend and Divergent in a best way possible. It was a great read. I highly recommend giving it a shot if you like darker books.

"I turn around and launch my dagger. The blade spins wildly but with a menacing ring that brings a smile to my lips. We can only survive. We do not need anyone else. The world lives off hate.
And that is exactly what I feel for Zephyr James."

Meadow lives on a beat with her brother(Koi) sister(Peri) and her father. Her mother worked for The Murder Complex, got killed and now her father thinks Meadow might be in danger. Her father trained her to survive. She is not your usual YA kickass protagonist, she is a cold-hearted killer! I loved her. she is tough and very realistic. The thing annoys me the most in YA books is insta-love, this is as far as you can get from it!

No escaping.
No turning back.
This is what we must do to survive.
This is the Murder Complex.”

Zephyr James/ Patient Zero
Zephyr is a ward. He is nobody. He lives on streets, barely earns enough money to feed himself. One thing bothered me at the begging was Zephyr dreaming about Meadow before they even met. It seemed like the author was trying to pull some true love or meant-to-be crap. Boy was i wrong! Then, there is Patient Zero!! He is Murder Complex's best soldier (if you could even call them that) His only purpose is to kill. HE IS PEETA FROM THE MOCKINGJAY and Peeta scared the shit outta me.

Favorite part. It was really long, had to cut a lot of it out but you'll get the idea.

"I look into her eyes. I see the light blue sunburst that surrounds the gray pupil. I can’t look away.
Suddenly everything goes dark, and I’m no longer in the ocean, no longer even a part of this world.
I’m standing in a mirrored room. I look left. I look right. I see myself, reflected a hundred times, dressed in black, fists clenched, eyes burning like fire.
Her voice is shimmery and bright, and it chills me to my very core.
“Welcome to the Murder Complex, Patient Zero. Initiate Termination.”
"Meadow Woodson. Sixteen. Target. Initiate Termination."
All I want to do is kill Meadow Woodson. Sink a knife into her heart and end her feeble, undeserving life.
I do the only thing I can do.
I obey."

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Profile Image for April.
146 reviews255 followers
July 27, 2016
Actually didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. The dark and twisted allure of the storyline is what made this book interesting.
Profile Image for Ceilidh.
233 reviews567 followers
January 14, 2014
As someone who grew up reading crime novels and obsessing over the Hannibal Lecter series (a hobby that has transcended into my adult life thanks to the TV show), I’m surprisingly comfortable with on-page depictions of violence, more so than I am with it on screen. The kind of darkness young adult novels tend to go for isn’t one so focused on this kind of violence. There are exceptions, such as Barry Lyga’s “I Hunt Killers”, and Lindsay Cummings’s debut hopes to make a similar splash with a high concept story and comparisons to Joe Wright’s teen killer movie “Hanna”.

The central concept is where the issues start. The world of “The Murder Complex” is one where all natural illnesses have been cured thanks to a series of nannites created to counteract a plague. This has had the unfortunate side effect of leaving human beings invulnerable to all illnesses, diseases and the like, meaning the only way one can die is through so-called “unnatural” means, mainly murder. While it isn’t unforeseeable that society would react to this news with a growing epidemic of violence, it is somewhat far-fetched that it would be the only reaction. The role of government is barely touched upon other than the stock dystopian unseen bad guys and the constant anti-science angle became exhausting. It may be a concept as old as science-fiction itself (the moral of “Frankenstein”, after all, is “don’t play God”) but it’s a lazy trope to create instant tension and an antagonist that can easily be blamed. It’s all science’s fault! Even though we as a current society gloss over violence and its consequences as well as the true horrors of war and therefore such attitudes are engrained in our psyche, it’s still all science’s fault.

As the novel progresses, the biggest comparison my mind kept making was that of “Reboot” by Amy Tintera, a YA novel that came with a lot of hype, many comparisons to “Divergent” and a similarly cavalier attitude towards violence (Cummings, to her credit, deals with this somewhat better than Tintera, but it takes longer than one is strictly comfortable with). Both novels also have a similar attitude towards the central romance, and both examples drag the story down significantly. With Meadow and Zephyr, the love they develop comes out of nowhere. He dreams of her but it later turns out he’s programmed to kill her. That is literally the extent of the development of their relationship. While the romance doesn’t derail the plot entirely, its very inclusion is questionable at best. Toss in a few glaring elements that echo “Divergent” so loud that you’d think this was a tribute novel and the central concept becomes less original and interesting with each passing page.

Side note but can we please stop using tattoos as a marker for how edgy and dangerous someone is? Tattoos are no longer counter-cultural, they’re part of the mainstream. My mum has 11 tattoos!

The novel itself makes for a fast paced read, although the interchanging narratives of Meadow and Zephyr are nigh on indistinguishable, and the prose is serviceable for what it hopes to accomplish. However, the violence has to be talked about again. “The Murder Complex” is a novel trying so hard to be dark and edgy and dangerous yet ultimately it feels relatively safe. The novelty of having a novel saturated with violence wears off quickly and one is left with a bad after-taste as the consequences of said violence are barely touched upon until the final 20%.

It is in this final fifth of the novel that the true potential hinted at in the synopsis shines through, but it’s just not enough. Too many questions are left unanswered. Why would the government immediately turn to murder as a means of population control over something like euthanasia? How does one keep the barest semblance of order in such a society when everyone is as ridiculously violent as those in charge? What about new births? How are they controlled, if they even are? Such unanswered questions become distracting to the reader.

The biggest question I was left with was why on earth did the author decide that using very graphic violence for a cheap shock tactic was okay but swearing was not? The characters say “flux” instead of “fuck” and “shit” is swapped for “skitz”. As well as being laughably juvenile, it presents a staggering hypocrisy that reminded me of the South Park movie: horrible violence is okay as long as you don’t use naughty language. I was seriously offended by this ridiculous double standard.

While “The Murder Complex” hints at Cummings’s potential as an action writer, there are too many questions left hanging, too many plot holes gaping wide open and a whole barrel-load of problematic content that tries to be shocking but ends up being distasteful. While the so-called originality of this concept may be amplified continually until release day, the story is ultimately too familiar to keep one’s attention held for long.

Profile Image for Giselle.
1,052 reviews910 followers
March 31, 2016
I don't even know what I just read.. *sighs* good concept, but I feel like the execution could have been handled better

Review TK
Profile Image for Jasmine.
250 reviews327 followers
July 9, 2016
Edit (9.07.16): God damn it. I've had such a bland year so far. XP

Edit (9.11.12 - Cover Reveal):

LOOK! IT FINALLY HAS A COVER. after months of waiting, I finally get a cover. Yippy! And it's looks EPIC. I mean, seriously. It is awesome. I love the fact that they sketched in a face instead of photographed it. It looks like something out of a comic book. And the colour is so bold, so eye-catching. I just - I love. I love. Thank you to whoever made this. Hopefully they won't change the cover for the sequel, because I seriously adore what this books got going on.
... And now I sound like I'm hitting on a book... My life is very sad...

Original Review:

Goodreads: "Would you like to put this book onto your to-read list?"
Me: *whip's drool* "Yes. Please."
Profile Image for Cherie.
33 reviews
May 23, 2014
This is an AMAZING book. If you don't read it, you're flat out crazy. It's gory and dark...but oh so pretty! I LOVE this book. And I can't wait until I get to hold my own copy!!
Profile Image for Anja H..
712 reviews450 followers
September 5, 2018

“We're all good until we're not strong enough to be anymore.”

Seriously? What the fuck did I just read??
The first half was great, but the second half was just one big mess! The way these characters changed their minds every other minute gave me whiplash!

My first impression of this was good. The setting, the world, it was all very imaginative and worked out really well. However, it all started going downhill from the point where Meadow and Zephyr fell in insta-love.
Profile Image for Lizzie.
125 reviews63 followers
February 23, 2015
I'm so excited to have finally read one of the brilliant Lindsay Cummings's novels!! :)
I didn't really have any expectations going into this book, but it blew me away! The characters were SO fantastic, I really loved Meadow's character, as well as Zephyr! I thought they both worked really well together, and I loved the family aspect as well.
I thought that the world building was done really really well! I really enjoyed the storyline and was surprised many times by all of the plot twists.
I also, surprisingly, really loved the dual POV's! I almost always would rather just have a book be from just one characters perspective, or I would find myself enjoying one characters POV more than the other, but I found them both equally entertaining and enjoyable!

I would NOT, however, recommended this book to everyone, as it does have some pretty graphic violence, which I personally have never really had a problem with, but if your squeamish about blood and violence, I would stay away from this book.

I have to say, I was not disappointed by my first Lindsay Cummings novel, I *can't wait* for book 2, and I'm also super excited to read her middle-grade novel, Balance Keepers: The Fires of Calderon. :)

5 Out of 5 Stars
Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
475 reviews16k followers
September 3, 2014
I just really felt like either I didn't see the point to this book, or there was none.
Profile Image for Debbie.
295 reviews128 followers
January 3, 2015

Honestly, what is this crap? Because from all the hype, I would have thought this book would be amazing and lively and shit. It's not, not at all despite the non-stop action. I feel like The author thought that adding a shit ton of action and fighting would make up for the story being shitty but it really doesn't and never will.

I got bored after the first chapter because of the writing which is so awkward and choppy as well as the characters which are ALL forgettable and as creative and original as a bowl of plain oatmeal. The romance sucks ass since it's full-blown insta-love. Like, it's the worst case I've ever read which is saying a lot if you check the shelf I have just for book full of insta-love. Moreover, for someone who's been taught to be smart and survive, Meadow sure is stupid and naive. First, she risks death to save a stranger, and then she tries to negotiate with her killer just because she thinks he's cute. I really don't understand how she's made it this far.

The chapters are really short. That's always a plus.

The idea for The Murder Complex is really cool but that's where the coolness ends. I'm so disappointed with this one. There was so much hype and I got really excited too, but don't let that awesome cover and title fool you. This book is dull, stupid, and forgettable.
Profile Image for Alice-Elizabeth (Prolific Reader Alice).
1,147 reviews154 followers
December 27, 2017
This was a Christmas present given to me from my parents along with a huge stack of books which I'm currently featuring over on my Twitter profile at www.Twitter.com/MarriedToBooks3. The first book in a duology and one that has been sitting on my wishlist for months, I'm happy that I did get the chance to read it in 2017 before the New Year. Meadow is a fifteen year old, living in Florida but not the tropical paradise that we all associated it with. Her father is a tough man, teaching her skills to survive and kill from a young age as they live together on a houseboat. Meadow's mother was murdered in a world which is controlled by The Murder Complex. When she gets a job handing out rations, she crosses paths with Zephyr, a programmed assassin but is wondering why suddenly she can't walk out of his sight. Deathly, haunting and thrilling, their mission to unlock the secrets of their state could be their downfall.

The novel is dual POV with short chapters making it fast-paced and interesting to hear from the minds of both Meadow and Zephyr. Ending however was on a cliffhanger which I'm not the biggest fan of and left me feeling slightly disappointed that not everything I wanted to see resolved was in fact resolved. The descriptions at times were quite graphic in places and me not being a lover of gore made me skip quite a few points in places because it was something I found uncomfortable. However, the imagery was strong and the action was consistant. I am looking forward to reading The Death Code as well as Zenith in the near feature.
Profile Image for Alicia Batista (Addicted Readers).
256 reviews504 followers
February 7, 2015
Whoa, that was SO MUCH BLOOD!!


4 Stars...

THE MURDER COMPLEX was bloodtastic read that I devoured. I was allured by the dark essence and the fast paced plot that kept me engaged and entertained until the very last page! It was a bloody world, full of twist and turns that satisfied.

But to keep it real, THE MURDER COMPLEX was a good book, but it had it's faults. There where many aspects that I enjoyed, but many that I didn't. One that I really enjoyed was the world-building—the backbone to THE MURDER COMPLEX. I liked that it added it's own touch of originality to the dystopian world, and that it delivered on that aspect of the book.

Another thing that I really loved was that it was bloody! I don't really know what that says about me...lol, ;) but I loved all the blood and murder, and the chase. It was thrilling to live through it all through the characters eyes, and see and feel what they felt. It was definitely a terrifying world that I would never want to live through!! I do give the author mad props for creating such a complex world that was dark and deadly, and awesomely thrilling!!

But there were a few things that drove me insane. Manly it was just one of the characters that I didn't like for numerous reasons. Zephyr was one of the main POV's and the love interest that drove me insane. First, his name annoyed the hell out of me!! I mean what kind of name is Zephyr??? That was the first strike against him. Then he said this repetitive word, Skitz's." What hell does Skitz's mean anyway?? I looked it up, and it's the meaning for Schizophrenia. WHAT??? What idiot would go around saying that all the time?? Then, when he meets Meadow, the other main POV, he starts acting like a little love sick puppy that would bend the earth for her. I mean he JUST met her and he was acting like that. Actually, I think he said that he might love her before he was even formally introduced to her. He was just a total turn off from the beginning, and then it just kept getting worse. Their was just too many reasons why I didn't see eye to eye with his character.

Another issue I had was the POV switch. I can usually put up with multiples POV's, but don't prefer them. And THE MURDER COMPLEX was no exception. I really only liked Meadow's POV. Zephyr just drove me crazy, and that made me hate him even more when it would switch to his POV.


Commandment One: Honor the Initiative.

Commandment Two: Thou shalt not attempt to cross the perimeter.

Commandment Three: Honor the Silent Hour.

Commandment Four: Thou shalt not harbor useful items from the days before.

In the horrifying world of THE MURDER COMPLEX, where murder rate is higher than the birthrate, and killing becomes as easy as breathing. Meadow, a girl just trying survive in this blood-soaked world she was born in, is ready to do the unthinkable in order to keep her family alive—even if she has to kill for it...

Fifteen-year-old Meadow Woodson has been trained to kill. Her only goal in life is to survive, survive and keep her family breathing, and that is by any means necessary.


Meadow's father has been training her how to fight, kill, and survive for years. Preparing her for her chance to take the placement testing—where everyone gets the opportunity to prove their worth for the honor of a job in their society. He's been readying her for when the time comes that she will have to kill or be killed, for the job that their family so desperately needs. And it's now Meadow's time—kill or be killed.... Meadow is determined to be the last one standing, she's ready to embrace her training, she's ready to shed blood, she's ready to kill....

But then Meadow's world starts to fall apart even more when she meets Zephyr, a Ward of the state—unworthy in the eyes of The Murder Complex. But something is different about Zephyr, he's not like the other Wards, and she feels compelled to help him when he makes a stupid decision that could cost him his very life. And then the web The Murder Complex spun many years ago begins to unravel, and the truth behind it all starts to slowly surface, and many facts are revealed that could shatter their world to the very core. Meadow's world becomes a race against the clock as she tries to understand who—or what Zephyr is, and what really is The Murder Complex, and why do they want her so badly, but most important, how is her mother tied into it all. As if that's not enough, Meadow has to cope with all this while trying to find and rescue her family that's just become missing.

Like I said above, it was a good book with it's flaws. I was expecting more from THE MURDER COMPLEX then what I got, but it still satisfied enough to keep my attention and have me engrossed in the characters and the overall plot of the book. I'm still eager to read the next book and see how it all plays out, because that ending was intense and definitely has me craving the next book!!

Overall, THE MURDER COMPLEX was a thrilling start to a fun series that I know I will continue to enjoy! I had my issues with this book, but I also really enjoyed it at the same time. I've been eager to read this book after hearing about how bloody and dark it would be, and it overall didn't disappoint! I think if you enjoy dystopia, mixed with a touch of Sci-f, thrown into a bloody dark world, then you will definitely enjoy this one!!

NOTE: I received a physical ARC from Harper Teen for reviewing purposes! All opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced in any way!

Profile Image for ✧ Emily ✧.
147 reviews106 followers
August 8, 2021
What a ride! This book had a lot of action and twists that kept me flying through the pages.

The romance between Zephyr and Meadow was a satisfying slow-burn with a lot of potential. It wasn't perfect, but I thought Zephyr's devotion to Meadow was sweet. I loved how he stood back and let Meadow defeat enemies, but was there to help when he could.

Meadow was an amazing kick-butt heroine who loved her family and often thought of them. She took the punches (literally!) with pride and did everything to survive.

This book wasn't amazing, but it still was a fun thrill-ride. I'll be reading the sequel soon!
Profile Image for Darren Hagan-Loveridge.
271 reviews38 followers
February 9, 2016
*Actually 4.5 stars*

Really enjoyed this. It was action packed, full of ruthless people and murder. There were some good unpredictable twists and I liked the characters, even the side characters.

I found the romance to be a bit iffy though. It started off really nice but then something happened and I found it a lot harder to believe in it. My only other little problem was the language. In a book with such a high murder count, I didn't see the need to censor the "f*cks" and "sh*ts" with "flux" and "skitz".
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