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The Murder Confusion

What Lindsay Cumming’s first novel lacks in plot, it makes up for in body count.

The Murder Confusion

BOOK REPORT for The Murder Complex (The Murder Complex #1) by Lindsay Cummings

Cover Story: Drenched in Blood
BFF Charm: Caution!
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: She Said, He Said
Anti-Bonus Factors: Mass Murder, Patty Chase Award for Awful Parenting
Relationship Status: Let’s Not Rush To Make Plans

Cover Story: Drenched in Blood

For a book with a title like The Murder Complex, I suppose it only makes sense to have a cover that features a person drenched in blood. But it’s actually more creepy than intriguing.

The Deal:

Meadow wants nothing more than to protect and provide for her family. It can be hard to do, however, in a world run by an organization—the Initiative—that asks everything of its citizens and gives very little in return. She keeps her head down and tries to stay out of trouble, but it seems to find her regardless.

As a Ward, Zephyr is forced to work the jobs that no one else wants, including cleaning up some of the hundreds of bodies that end up the streets each morning, murdered. He occasionally also wakes up near a murdered individual, with blood on his hands, not knowing how he got there.

The world they live in is harsh and unforgiving, but the more they learn about it and the rules that guide it, the more they learn about themselves and the unexpected roles they play.

BFF Charm: Caution!

Meadow is a tough cookie. From a young age, she’s been trained by her father and her brother to be able to take care of herself—and kill, if necessary. (Which she does, without any real remorse.) I’d constantly be worried that if I accidentally touched her, she might stab me.

Zephyr is more of a kind soul, but he’s not innocent either. He’d make a better friend, in the emotional sense of the word, than Meadow, but the fact that he wakes up near dead people with no real memory of what happened worries me.

My hesitation at giving either of them a BFF charm also stems from the fact that I’d feel like a total third wheel if we were to ever hang out, just the three of us.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

Meadow’s not very good at relationships or caring for people other than her father, her brother and her younger sister, Peri. She doesn’t think she has room in her life for anyone else, but sometimes fate deals an unexpected hand. Unfortunately, fated love doesn’t always equal swoony love.

Talky Talk: She Said, He Said

The Murder Complex shifts between Meadow and Zephyr’s POVs. They’re distinct enough at first, but as the two characters connect with each other in the story, it gets a little harder to tell who’s who. Plot-wise, there’s a lot going on, but not enough explanation. While reading, there were times I felt like I’d missed some vital bit of information, but upon going back to reread, I found that the information was just missing. Some of the descriptive phrases Lindsay Cummings uses are also glaringly overused, and plot points are seemingly added then forgotten about. The version of the novel I read was, of course, an ARC, so there might have been edits made before the book was published, but at first glance, it’s very obvious that this is Cummings’ first novel.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Mass Murder

The Murder Complex takes place over the course of a few days, and thousands of people die. The reasons for which they are murdered are never fully explained, and so their deaths fall flat. The dead bodies are merely a piece of the background scenery a lot of the time, which is sad.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Patty Chase Award for Awful Parenting

Although he says it was for her own good, the fact that Meadow’s father has spent many years literally beating a sense of self preservation into her makes me cringe. Regardless of how crappy the world they live in is, there’s a limit to my understanding of the whole “it’s for her own good” excuse.

Casting Call:

Ginny Gardner as Meadow

Jeremy Irvine as Zephyr

Relationship Status: Let’s Not Rush To Make Plans

I think it says a lot that, although The Murder Complex ends with a hardcore cliffhanger, I’m not really in a hurry to know more. I don’t find myself worried for the characters, nor do I find myself itching to find out what happens next. Will I read the next book in the series? Maybe? But I’m not going to start a countdown or anything.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from Greenwillow Books. I received neither a private dance performance from Tom Hiddleston nor money for this review. The Murder Complex is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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