Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The murder complex by Lindsay Cummings

Meadow and Zephyr come from two very different sides of the same coin - growing up in the claustrophobic and controlled world of the Shallows.  In the Shallows everyone knows the four golden rules and everyone obeys, or at least they all pretend to obey them, bending the rules while no one is looking.  Meadow is one of the lucky ones, she has a family and her father has taught her to be a survivor and a fighter - essential life skills in a world where everyone looks out for themselves.  On the other side of the coin is Zephyr, an orphaned Ward who helps keep the world running smoothly by removing the dead and other rubbish from the streets, his life is not perfect but at least he is alive. 

Meadow fights to stay alive, fights to help her family stay alive - and Zephyr tries to live and ignore the impulses that appear out of nowhere urging him to kill.  Their two worlds are set to collide violently as Zephyr strives to connect with the memory of a girl with long silver hair, and Meadow strives to uncover a secret that no one wants exposed.  In a future where disease and death from injury are practically unheard of the murder rate is climbing rapidly and no one seems safe from the killings.  As Meadow uncovers more information about the murders and the reasons behind them she will also discover more about herself and her family - but is she prepared to face the whole truth, or will it be too much for both of them to bear?

The murder complex is a dark and oddly compelling story that is unsettling in its bluntness, but also worms its way into your subconscious and nestles there long after the book has ended.  This is a dark story, there is no questions about that, but it is also a story that carries both hope and a sense of understanding about what would drive an individual (and a society) to make choices like those you find in the Shallows.  These are vague and veiled hints I know, but this is one of those stories where to reveal too much in the review would ruin some of the best parts of the novel - the parts where you peel back the layers and discover the truth at the core of the story.

When people saw me reading a book with such a charming title they asked me what it was about and I found it hard to explain in simple terms.  In basic terms Meadow is raised by a father who systematically challenges and tortures her to teach her the ultimate survival lessons, teaching her to fight and stay alive no matter what the challenge - but she is so much more than that.  Zephyr is the orphan cleaning the streets of human and other types of garbage, hiding the secret he has killed a dozen people but barely remembers the details - but he is so much more than that.  It is over the course of the novel that we get a real measure of Meadow and Zephyr and get a real sense of the challenges they face in their world, and the challenges they have to overcome to move forward. 

There are allies, enemies, traitors, and mind blowing revelations making this an intense and gripping read - but it is also a straightforward and high octane thriller featuring a race against time, with two teenagers facing off against a repressive controlling power in a future dystopia.  There is a lot to like here and very little not to like, it was a treasure to discover and read The murder complex before anyone else I knew so they couldn't ruin the surprises for me - and I promise not to ruin them for you either!  This is one for the more mature teen readers or younger teen readers with support as some aspects of this story are disturbing - even for me as an adult reader.  Thought provoking and profound, the perfect blend of an intelligent read that makes you think, and a fast paced action thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  This is not your average dystopian retelling of the Hunger games, it is a clear and strong voice in its own right (and the ending hints at a sequel ... maybe).

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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