The Murder Complex #1
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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?
The Murder Complex is one of those stories that forces us to rationalize the brutality of our protagonists within the context of their world when in our own they would have all the makings of monsters. As a result, we spend a great deal of time asking ourselves uncomfortable questions–questions as to whether or not we could do what Meadow does to protect and care for her family–and find ourselves riveted by the answers. What’s perhaps most fascinating about this dark and gritty tale is the degrees of villainy within it, each character full of good intentions that pave the way to a hell of their own making, and we’re swept along in a tide of blood and death as we slowly uncover how humanity managed to both evolve and devolve so spectacularly.
Meadow is someone we can’t help but root for despite the fact that she takes lives with an ease that should be alarming, but she finds no joy in the killing, she simply does what needs to be done in the name of her family and feels little guilt when she’s the one left standing. A young woman with edges as hard and sharp as Meadow's should be tricky to connect with, but Ms. Cummings does a truly beautiful job of weaving vulnerabilities through her armor; family-shaped chinks appearing more frequently with each chapter. Her love for her brother and her little sister is painful because we know inevitably they’re a weakness to be exploited, but their relationship is a hint of the familiar in a world ruled by methodical chaos, and we latch on to it with all the strength we possess.
Where Meadow’s love for Peri and Koi brings a warm flush to our skin, her relationship with her father immediately cools it, the two of them locked together in a vicious cycle of violence and survival. We want to hate her father for the things he subjects her to and often find our lips curling in disgust at his “training” methods, but for all that he is harsh and unyielding and brutal, it’s his teachings that have saved–and continue to save–Meadow’s life again and again. Maybe she still would have survived with more love and fewer lessons learned the hard way, but as the secrets and lies that make up The Murder Complex are slowly revealed, we develop a sort of twisted admiration for him and the lengths to which he’s willing to go to ensure his daughter will always be the one to come out on top.
The romance between Meadow and Zephyr is perhaps the weakest aspect of this story, but it’s still an enjoyable addition with a great deal of promise that will hopefully be explored with more depth in the next installment. Overall, The Murder Complex is a read that flies by, short 2-3 page chapters and an alternating point of view between Meadow and Zephyr ensuring we have an incredibly difficult time setting this book down to return to our regular lives.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.