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.